Brokerage sales fall slightly in October; values up 10 percent

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After several months of lower sales compared with 2013, brokerage members of YachtWorld narrowed the gap in October, reporting in SoldBoats.com a decline in volume of just 1 percent from the previous October, with 2,304 boats sold.

As volume improved, so did the total value of transactions for the month, which rose 10 percent on sales of $319.2 million.

Notably, a lift in sailboat sales of 3 percent, to 470 boats, led the volume gains. Powerboat sales declined 2 percent, with 1,834 boats sold, but the value increases came on the powerboat side, where the aggregate value of all boats sold climbed from $253.2 million to $284.6 million. Sailboat values slipped from $36.7 million to $34.6 million.

For the first 10 months of this year, brokerage sales were down 5 percent on sales of 26,690 boats. The total value of sales was also down 5 percent, with $3.1 billion paid.

The average sale price was level for the year to date, unless we exclude sales of 167 boats above 80 feet, which generally closed at lower prices this year. For all boats under 80 feet, the average price increased substantially in 2014, to $90,200, up from $83,700 in 2013, thanks in part to stronger volume sales of larger boats and in part to rising prices among smaller boats.

This month, we studied a relatively small segment of the market to continue our exploration of the effects of lower-volume boat production since the Great Recession. For the period from January through September, we looked at 2013 and 2014 reports of 48- to 52-foot boats sold in all classes and of model ages that were 10 years old or newer.

We mapped median sale prices, comparing 2013 and 2014 from January through September, and noted a natural price decline from boats built 1 to 2 years ago, selling for about $700,000, to boats 9 to 10 years old, selling for $300,000.

The trend our chart revealed was that in 2013 and 2014, a much higher number of boats sold in the 6- to 10-year-old range than in the 1- to 5-year-old range. At a quick glance, sales numbers in both years look similar. However, a closer look shows that except in one instance, sales in every year from 1 to 6 were lower in 2014 than in 2013, which underscores what we’ve heard repeatedly from brokers that recent model listings have grown scarcer generally.

Now consider another pattern on the graph. The height of the blue column (2013 sales) for year one is close to the height of the green column (2014 sales) for year two. The height of the blue column for year two is also close to the height of the green column for year three. The pattern continues and is interrupted only by the high sales of green (2014) for 7- and 9-year-old boats.

This pattern seems to make sense, given that the pool of 1-year-old boats for sale in 2013 was the pool that became 2-year-old boats a year later in 2014. And the pool of 2-year-old boats for sale in 2013 was 3 years old in 2014, etc. Recent-model scarcity now extends out to 4- and 5-year-old models, and it does not take much imagination to see what will happen during the next couple of years.

Granted, this was a small sample size, but the consistency of the pattern seems worth noting and suggests that among boats 48 to 52 feet, at least, we shouldn’t be surprised to see a further impact on brokerage sales and on new-boat sales, as well.

John Burnham is the editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.

This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue.

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