Summer trend: Flat sales, price pressure

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62_summer_trend_162_summer_trend_262_montly_salesU.S. brokerage boat sales were flat in August, just as they had been in July and June, compared with the same months in 2011.

According to reports by YachtWorld.com member brokers in their proprietary database, SoldBoats.com, 14 fewer boats were sold in August 2012 than in August 2011. For the three-month period, 9,289 boats changed hands, down from 9,312, a decrease of 0.2 percent.

This month, we’ll focus on that three-month period. The sales volume was remarkably level, but plenty of change was afoot. The aggregate value of brokerage sales decreased by $221 million, or 22 percent. Sales from June through August of 2011 were $1.01 billion; this year, they totaled $786 million.

Depending on the size of boat offered, sellers faced different prospects. Among boats shorter than 45 feet, sales were about the same as in the previous year and buyers were paying similar amounts.

The strongest sales during the three-month period were among boats less than 26 feet, and in some instances the average prices were rising. Three percent more boats changed hands than during the previous year, with 3,126 boats sold, and the aggregate sales price of $64 million was up by twice as much, nearly 6 percent.

Although 1 percent fewer boats 36 to 45 feet were sold, with 1,814 sales, the aggregate price paid was 2 percent higher, at $230 million in sales.

Among boats 26 to 35 feet, sales were level, at 3,717, and the total value was down 2 percent, with sales of $193 million, so the average sale prices were slightly lower. However, in August, sales of this size boat were stronger. The volume was up 2 percent.

By contrast, sales of bigger boats were lower through the summer months, compared with a year earlier. In the 46- to 80-foot range, sales were down 10 percent, with 596 boats sold, and among superyacht-sized boats over 80 feet, sales were down 36 percent, with 30 boats sold. Among superyachts, the aggregate sales price paid was lower by $145 million, or 63 percent.

More clearly indicative of the price pressure among large yachts was the total price paid for boats 46 to 55 feet. Sales were down 9 percent, from 468 to 424 boats, and the total value of the sales was down 18 percent, from $136 million to $111 million. Notably, lower pricing did not seem to apply when selling boats 56 to 80 feet in the same way; there, brokers reported that volume was 11 percent lower, and the aggregate price paid also was down 11 percent.

The market’s patterns may be changing again. Sales of boats under 26 feet in August were down for the first time all year, and 26- to 35-foot boats were selling better than in the previous year for the second month in a row after a difficult first six months. Among 56- to 80-footers, sales were up strongly in the first half of the year, but they were lower in August for the second month in a row.

John Burnham is the editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue.

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