The U.S. yacht brokerage market continued to gain this year as 2,967 boats were sold in April, a 5.1 percent increase from the same month last year.
Based on reports by YachtWorld.com member brokers in their proprietary database, SoldBoats.com, the total value of the boats sold in April also rose, with $305.4 million representing a 7.5 percent increase over the previous year.
April marked the fourth straight month of growth in the aggregate sales price paid for brokerage boats in the country; for the year to date, the total value was $1.1 billion, an increase of $200 million, or 22.3 percent. Sales volume has grown in three of the first four months of this year, and it gained again in April after dipping 1 percent in March. Total sales are up 4.8 percent for the year to date, with 9,081 boats changing hands.
The rise in valuation continued to come largely from the sale of boats over 55 feet. The category was up 26.7 percent in April, with $104.6 million in sales, and was up 66.4 percent for the four-month period, with sales totaling $469.2 million. It’s worth noting that sales in this category were comparatively weak early last year, but in May and June boats over 55 feet sold for an extraordinary combined total of $491 million. Continued second-quarter growth in total valuation in this category is possible, of course, but perhaps not as likely.
In 2011, sales of superyachts (over 80 feet) were the only significant driver of increased aggregate sales price in the brokerage market as a whole. This year, valuation gains have been made elsewhere in the market, although the superyacht segment has continued to lead the way. For the year to date, 72 superyachts have been sold at a value of $269 million. That’s an increase from a year earlier, when 44 had been sold for a total of $110 million.
Gains in value also have come in sales of boats 56 to 80 feet, up $28 million, and in two smaller-boat categories. Among boats 36 to 45 feet, sales value increased by $11 million, and among boats under 26 feet, sales value rose by $8 million.
The increase in sales volume in the market has resulted from stronger sales of small boats. Boats under 26 feet sold better again in April, and for 2012 they were up 11.4 percent, with 3,110 sales completed. This size range has begun to rival the category that normally generates the highest volume of broker sales — boats 26 to 35 feet. Through April, sales of boats 26 to 35 feet were down 1.5 percent for the year, at 3,349.
For the year to date, the total sales valuation for boats under 26 feet was up 14.2 percent, which raised the average price at which boats of that size were sold, compared with 2011. For boats 26 feet to 35 feet the total value was down 2.7 percent, at $181.4 million, which lowered the average price, compared with a year earlier.
John Burnham is the editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.
This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue.