U.S. brokerage sales volume was 5 percent lower in April than in the same month last year, marking the third time this year that sales were below those in the corresponding month a year earlier.
Sales for the year through April were down 4 percent, from 8,712 last year to 8,333 this year, according to YachtWorld member brokerages reporting in SoldBoats.com, their proprietary database.
The total value of sales in April rose noticeably, from $311.2 million last year to $476.2 million this year — an increase of 53 percent — primarily because of a surge in the value of superyacht sales (boats larger than 80 feet). Although the number of superyachts sold decreased from 24 to 18, the total value rose from $64.7 million to $195.2 million.
The total sales value in the broader brokerage market was generally higher, as well, rising from $246 million to $281 million. Every segment had higher-value sales, even in the under-26-foot range, where the sales volume declined by 13 percent, with 961 boats sold, but the total value increased by 5 percent, to $26 million.
The strongest segment was 46 to 55 feet, up 26 percent from April 2014, with 172 boats sold. Aggregate sales value increased 30 percent, to $51.3 million.
Sales in the highest-volume segment, boats 26 to 35 feet, were 2 percent higher, with 1,120 boats sold. Total value climbed from $61 million to $70.7 million, or 16 percent.
Through April, U.S. sales values had increased from $1.03 billion to $1.23 billion. Superyacht sales were up by $139 million, to $385.7 million, and the rest of the market recorded a total sales value of $841 million, an increase of $60 million from the first four months of 2014.
Last month, we looked at the age and class of brokerage boats recently sold. This month, we continue that study with a review of 2014 sales based on the age of boats sold and grouped in 10-year segments.
Sales in the overall market last year were moderately higher for boats one to nine years old and 10 to 19 years old than boats that were 20 or more years old (see chart). The total value of sales correlated with age very clearly, with nearly $2 billion in sales from the most recently built boats, compared with $1.16 billion for 10- to 19-year old boats and $472 million for those more than 20 years old. Average prices ranged from $186,084 for the most recent models to $56,917 for the oldest.
Among powerboats sold in 2014, we see that there was a slight plurality in boats sold among those less than 10 years old, compared with boats 10 to 19 years old, and there were far fewer boats 20 or more years old than in the overall view. Differences in the total value of sales were even more dramatic, and the average price paid declined by 45 percent from boats under 10 years old to boats 10 to 19 years old, and again by 39 percent for boats more than 20 years old.
By contrast, the smaller sailboat market skewed heavily toward boats that were more than 20 years old; 3,254 of those were sold last year, compared with only 849 boats that were less than 10 years old.
Newer boats sold for a much higher average price ($178,281 vs. $41,791), which kept the total value of boats sold in each age bracket roughly the same. The high number of sales of older sailboats aligns with our earlier studies of sailboat inventory, which is also notably older than the powerboat inventory.
John Burnham is the editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue.