I’ve been an avid boater since my dad first put me behind the wheel of the family’s classic Chris Craft runabout when I was four years of age. Throughout my lifelong love affair with boating, I’ve owned, operated, and maintained a broad range of boats both power and sail, running the gamut from Hobie Cats to cabin cruisers to offshore high speed performance powerboats.
After graduating from the Virginia Military Institute with a degree in Civil Engineering, I began my career as an active duty U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot; a career that took me around the country and around the globe. During many tours of duty, including a stint flying the President as a Marine One pilot, I owned and operated a variety of boats in lakes, rivers, and the coastal waters of Hawaii, San Diego, CA, and Norfolk, VA. Before leaving active duty, I enrolled with the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology’s Yacht Design course, a rigorous program designed to give students the ability to design, from the ground up, sail and power boats up to 100 feet in length. I’m also a USCG licensed Captain (50 ton Master).
Since leaving active duty, I’ve worked as an aviation consultant in the Washington, D.C. area, and while continuing my Westlawn curriculum, I’ve been using my infectious passion for boating and my comprehensive knowledge of boat design, construction, and operating characteristics to help friends and colleagues find the right boat to suit their lifestyle. I’m very proud and happy in 2009 to have joined the United Yacht Sales team as an exclusively affiliated broker.
To learn more about United Yacht Sales and how we can help you buy or sell your next boat, please visit our website
“I’m a lifelong boater but had never bought a “big” boat. When my wife and I decided it was time to move up, we did a lot of looking and ran into a lot of dead ends, bad leads, and misrepresented boats. Wasted several months and tanks of gas looking at the wrong boats.
I reached out to some friends and asked for a recommendation on a buyer’s agent to help with the search. The feedback was unanimous: Call Matt Howard. Done.
With a couple of email exchanges and phone calls, we started zeroing in on what we were looking for and a price & geographical range. I’m picky, and based on needs/desires we were doing more of a unicorn hunt than a boat search.
Finally found what looked to be “the one” several states away and made a run at her. Matt truly showed the advantage of having an agent on the buyer’s side vs. dealing directly with the seller or their broker. I made a fair but low initial offer and we did some countering back and forth. Matt did all of the heavy lifting behind the scenes. Once we had an accepted offer we instantly locked up the deal by getting it on a contract. This is an often overlooked and misunderstood process. From the buyer’s perspective it gets you first right of refusal on the deal – there are still “outs” based on the survey, sea trial, etc.
Once on-contract it was time to clear a weekend and drive 350 miles and actually lay eyes on the boat for the first time. Matt made it a point to meet me in NC to see the boat in-person. I really wanted an impartial second opinion to make sure I wasn’t overlooking anything. Too easy to get new-boat lust and overlook significant shortcomings; a second set of eyes is invaluable at this point in the process.
Funny thing, after looking at dozens of boats I was pretty jaded. Stepped on-board “Labrisa” and instantly knew she was the one if the survey went well. Matt added a lot of big boat experience to the initial look, and we spent a lot of time going over systems I was unfamiliar with and talking pros/cons of the boat. He was definitely more concerned with making sure my family got the right boat to fit our needs than just making a sale.
He was also there on the day of the survey & sea trial, and made a lot of great observations. Once we started moving towards closing he oversaw the entire process. I had no idea how complex a big boat transaction is; more like a house than a car or a trailer boat. Matt and the pros at United made it as streamlined as possible.
I really can’t recommend Matt Howard highly enough. He knows the market, knows boats, and is honest and forthright. As a fellow military officer I truly felt that he had my interests at heart at all times. It’s nice to have someone you trust at your side giving solid advice on a complex process.
After this transaction I’m truly sold on the concept of having a buyer’s agent to represent your interests in purchasing a boat. The good ones know the market and are walking the docks every day and know what’s out there and what is or isn’t a good deal. They can facilitate everything from negotiating with the seller to surveys to processing paperwork to closing, and everything in-between.
We love the boat that Matt helped us buy, and he will be an integral part of selling her and moving up sometime in the future.
If you’re on the fence on getting a bigger boat, here’s my advice: Make the numbers work, and then take the leap-of-faith and jump in. It’s worth it. Just make sure you have a buyer’s agent representing your interests. My recommendation for that is Matt Howard and United Yacht Sales.”
LTC Chris Anderson
“Matt Howard brokered the sale of our previous boat and the purchase of our current boat. He is extremely knowledgeable and professional and both transactions went flawlessly thanks to his initiative and attention to detail. Matt went out of his way to be sure that sales and purchase documents were handled expeditiously. He knows the market well and has a great eye for value. We were very pleased to work with Matt and will definitely use him again when we trade boats.”
Steve T, Lexington Park MD
“In planning to buy a trawler, I contacted Matt Howard to act on my behalf in this process. While I had a fairly good idea of what I wanted, preliminary discussion with Matt helped me refine the requirements that I eventually provided to him. His search was complete and quick as a result… Matt is extremely knowledgeable and provided good insights on the trawler’s capabilities as well as limitations. His approach is totally professional and led to a successful and rewarding experience for me. The trawler has worked out to be exactly what was presented, no surprises and the purchase experience was more enjoyable than I originally anticipated. I would recommend Matt’s services without reservation to anyone buying or selling a boat.”
Jim M, Solomons MD
“I recently upgraded my family boat. Being relatively new to boating I quickly found myself overwhelmed by the choices available and decisions to be made. Thank goodness I found Matt Howard. Matt’s depth of knowledge and extensive boating experience allowed him to quickly and effectively help me narrow down the choices and steer me to the boat of my dreams. No pressure, no expectation, just a sincere desire to help me and my family find the boat appropriate for our needs, within our price range, and that we will certainly enjoy for many years to come. Matt’s commitment to satisfaction extends well beyond the sale. Two seasons have passed and Matt is still in regular contact, following up on our interaction and answering any new questions which may have developed. I could not be happier with my decision.”
Sam C, Fredericksburg VA
“Matt did an excellent job in finding the perfect boat for me. He really listened to what I was looking for and kept bringing me listings of boats of my liking until we found the right one. While I am still enjoying the boat Matt found for me he remains my broker in the future.”
“THE GREAT WHITE”
“I want you to know what a great experience we had with Matt Howard in purchasing our new boat. My wife and I are sailboat people making the transition to a motoryacht. Since we do not have a lot of experience with large powerboats, Matt’s expertise in powerboats was of incalculable value in our search and decision on what boat to buy. He also demonstrated a great deal of patients with us as we went through various excursions in our search for the right boat. I cannot count the number, type or size boats we were interested in at one time or another. A lot of indecision and not knowing what we really wanted on our part must have driven Matt a little nuts though he never said or showed any hint of frustration. His ability to remain patient throughout the process and not to push us but provide good guidance in every case was just what you want in a boat broker. His willingness to spend long hours discussing boats and going with us to look at boats without showing any lack of enthusiasm and solid advice made the experience a great one instead of a long burdensome process.
My wife Stephanie and I will certainly use Matt and United Yachts in any future boat dealings and I have already recommended Matt to several people who have mentioned to me that they are interested in purchasing a boat.
Thanks to Matt, you and United Yachts for a great boat buying experience.”
“On Wednesday, March 13, 2013, I was able to bring to completion a journey I started back in Oct of 2011 with one of your Sales Reps, Mr. Matt Howard. Over the next year, Matt sent me some listings for me to view… this proved valuable to me as it got me familiar with the available market as well as comparable models & asking prices. In Dec of 2012 he sent me a listing and told me he felt this one was really worth some research on my part. Turns out she was just what I was looking for. My girlfriend Sue & I, met with Matt to look at the boat & check her out to make sure she was as good as the pictures of her looked. So glad to report that she was in person, better than the pics. Sue commented more than once just how comfortable Matt made her feel. That our concerns were concerns of his as well & that he would not be satisfied unless we were satisfied. Matt guided me through the offer phase & then assisted with the Marine Survey phase. Along this process he was most helpful, answered all of my questions & discussed my concerns with impeccable honesty & integrity. Never did I feel like Matt was trying to apply any pressure or quicken the pace of things. We communicated often by email, text & phone. He always replied quickly & with the right answers. Without hesitation I would recommend Matt & your company to any of my friends & family, should I ever learn they are looking for a boat.”
Dan L, East Windsor CT
“Nearly two years ago I engaged Matt’s services to help my wife and me to find a boat that would best support our interests… Our odyssey led us from first inspecting the waterfront in Annapolis, Maryland, looking at boats in New Jersey, and going as far south as Charleston, SC… Matt developed a detailed checklist of things we needed on the boat and things that would be nice to have on the boat. When we finally thought we found the boat that best served our needs, Matt’s extensive knowledge of boats from engines to electronic navigation systems made us very confident that we were putting an offer on not only a good boat for our needs but a boat that would provide us service in the many years to come. Matt not only helped us negotiate a fair price for both the seller and buyer but was present and fully involved for our sea trials and survey and offered very professional advice on how to proceed during our entire purchase and acceptance process. After we closed on the sale and accepted the boat Matt and his wife accompanied my wife and me on our first adventure bringing the boat home on an eight hour cruise from New Bern, NC and provided a couple days of seamanship training. This of course was way beyond what would ever be expected of a broker but he made sure that we had the right boat and were able to use the boat with full confidence… Although we plan on keeping our Nordic Tug for a long time, when the day comes to upgrade to our next boat, Matt will be our broker. All the best to United Yacht as you continue to lead the business in the pursuit of satisfied boat owners.”
Gordon, Chocowinity, NC
“We would be remiss if we did not send you a note relaying Matt Howard’s superlative performance as our yacht broker over the past 11 months… that spanned the acquisition of our 2005 Sabre 42 Express and the sale of our 2002 Mainship 34 Pilot. Matt always made himself available for discussions on the attributes that would best suit our current boating style – weekend cruising – and our anticipated style as we transition into retirement – more extended cruising. Helping us to down select the potential brands and models based on our intended use, price range, and preferred aesthetics, he also leveraged his superb technical background and historical knowledge to inform and educate us on the pedigree of designs and those aspects of build quality and component selection that extend far beyond “curb appeal”.
With our work schedules precluding us from participating in sea trial and survey Matt assured us he would be there. What he did not plan on was a line of thunderstorms resulting in his flight from DC to New England the night before the survey being canceled. Not hesitating, he drove overnight to Cape Cod in order to represent our interests at the 9:00 AM survey and sea trial.
Concurrent with serving as the broker in our search for a new boat Matt assumed the role of the listing broker for our Mainship. Working our way through potential buyers Matt remained the calm, confident voice, aggressively pursuing each and every lead. Working closely with potential buyers he found the right match for the Mainship, closing the sale in advance of the end of the boating season, just as he forecast.
Suffice to say Matt’s performance throughout the concurrent processes confirmed everything we always thought about our friend, in particular his judgment, integrity, and thoughtfulness. We would enthusiastically recommend him to any of our friends.”
Kevin and Katherine, Brewster MA
“I recently sold my 2015 Back Cove and purchased a 2017 Sabre 42 within a matter of a few weeks of starting this process. I wanted to reach out and let you know how pleased I am with the performance of your staff.
Matt Howard represented me for both the sale of the Back Cove and the purchase of the Sabre. Matt was responsive to my needs, questions and concerns, while also keeping things real and in perspective. The Back Cove sold quickly thanks in part to Matt’s marketing efforts including accurate pricing, great photos, descriptive text and phone and email follow up. I fully understand the Back Cove is a popular boat but feel like we sold it quickly for a price that reflected the excellent condition.
Matt accompanied me to NY to sea trial the new boat. He was there the entire day and his advice was extremely helpful in assessing the quality. Fortunately, we had a very good boat to work with. Matt also attended to the somewhat quirky schedule our buyer had to work with. We took the buyer out on a sea trial and then the surveyor on a separate day. Matt’s help with these examinations was much appreciated. Finally, as luck would have it, I was in New York picking up the new boat when the buyer of the Back Cove wanted to load the boat on a truck at a local marina. So, Matt came and took the boat around to the travel lift for me. He handled a last minute issue with the trucker that would have turned into a major delay had Matt not been there.
Matt exhibits the honesty and integrity I would hope for in anyone who would work for me. I will strongly recommend Matt to any of my boating friends who ask, and in fact, I already have.”
Alan S., Arnold, MD
“A little over a year ago, my wife and I started looking for the boat that would take us around the world. We realized after travelling to see a number of boats that getting an unbiased opinion from a listing agent is not always easy.
We were very fortunate to be referred to Matt Howard. Matt’s professionalism and systematic approach became apparent during our first telephone conversation. Matt helped us get a better understanding of the whole process of finding the right boat, negotiating with the seller and closing the deal. He also took the time to listen to our story and get to know us before he started searching. Within two months, we were on our way to Annapolis to visit three boats.
Matt was very accommodating during the viewing process. He arranged visits and altered his own plans for a second visit. Matt was open, honest, and patient as we slowly looked through boats. When we had finally found the boat we were looking for, Matt was our advocate helping us negotiate the terms of the deal including arranging surveys by several professionals and being with us during this process. Once we were satisfied with the boat, Matt and his team at United Yachts took us seamlessly through the purchase process.
We were extremely pleased with our experience with Matt Howard and would highly recommend him.”
Luc and Cory, S/V SOLANA V
We have absolute confidence in Matt Howard and working with him has been the best possible experience we can imagine! He made purchasing our first boat a terrific experience and was with us every, single step of the way from understanding our needs, finding the absolute perfect option, putting in a competitive offer, setting up the survey and closing the deal. He provided expert advice on every aspect of the process, to include mechanical and detailing support. He even traveled up to Baltimore for a third time when we picked up our boat and then came to our new slip several times and fully trained us up on the systems and operation of the boat. The biggest factor in our journey was to find a trusted agent who could provide us expert advice and help us grow comfortable with a 40 foot boat. Matt was all that and more. Don’t be intimidated buying your first boat and don’t purchase something that doesn’t fully meet your needs and then find you want to upgrade soon after. Matt will guide you and make sure you are comfortable with operating your boat. You can’t put a price on that peace of mind. Matt can put you in touch with us if you would like more details about our experience.
Doug and Toni D., Arlington, VA
Please know how impressed we were with your professionalism and perseverance in selling our “Magic Dragon”, a custom built 1982 Chien Hwa trawler. We realize you went above and beyond on our behalf during this unprecedented pandemic. Your upbeat communications and honest market evaluations always gave us hope that you would (as you did) find exactly the right buyer.
When you recognized that perfect buyer, you handled all the negotiations from pricing to surveys with tremendous patience and a “just get it done” attitude. All the time you were totally transparent to the buyer about the vessel and in your communications with us. Even though we are in Europe and could not travel back to assist you in the sale due to COVID, you diligently labored so that all parties were ultimately happy.
When negotiations were complete, Kathy Hochenberger, at the United Yacht office in Stuart, Florida was quick to respond to our inquiries and the closing was processed quickly, after we sought out the ONLY U.S. notary here in Sicily. She was extremely efficient and also a joy to work with towards closing.
It is refreshing to do business with people who you trust and who you can even call “friend” these days. So glad we had the chance to meet and work with you. We will not hesitate to recommend your services and United Yacht to our boating friends when they are ready to either sell or buy their next boat.
We wish you and the entire United Yacht crew continued success.
Larry S. & Marcia S.