What a difference a month can make. U.S. brokerage sales in October not only increased, relative to October 2011, but also significantly outperformed the previous month, which is unusual because the trend at the end of the year is normally downward.
According to YachtWorld member brokerages reporting in SoldBoats.com, their proprietary database, 2,198 boats were sold in the United States in October, up from 1,962 in September and 1,937 in October of 2011. This year’s total also represented the highest sales volume for the month since 2007.
The aggregate price paid for boats sold in October, $242.1 million, was also higher than in the previous month, but was lower than in October 2011 by 7 percent. Even though sales of boats under 55 feet accounted for an additional $14 million in total value, the aggregate price for large yachts was down by $29 million, dropping the comparative total by $15 million.
The strongest segment of the market in October was boats 26 to 35 feet, up 17 percent, with 879 boats selling for an aggregate $47.1 million, 23 percent more than in October 2011. In the small-boat category under 26 feet, sales were up 6 percent, at 575 boats, and the total value was up 12 percent, at $12.5 million.
A small amount of downward price pressure was evident among boats 36 to 55 feet even as volume increased significantly. Sales of boats 36 to 45 feet gained 13 percent, with 519 boats sold, but the value of the boats sold was up only 6 percent, to $64.6 million. Sales of boats 46 to 55 feet were up 39 percent, with 169 boats sold; the gain in total value lagged slightly, at 36 percent, with $45.4 million in sales.
Through 10 months of 2012 sales were 4 percent higher than in 2011, with 26,267 boats sold. Value was down 8 percent, with $2.7 billion in sales. All of the gains were in the powerboat market, up 4 percent, with 21,552 boats sold. The sailboat market remained flat, with 4,715 boats changing hands.
The category of boats under 26 feet was the best year-over-year performer, with 8,607 boats sold, an 8 percent increase, and a total value paid of $177.5 million, up 12 percent. On a percentage basis, sales of boats 56 to 79 feet were up nearly as much, rising 7 percent, with 619 boats sold. However, the total value paid of $431.7 million was 8 percent lower than in the first 10 months of 2011.
The worst-performing segment for the year to date was the superyacht category, over 80 feet, which was down 8 percent in volume, with 134 boats sold, and down 33 percent in aggregate price paid, with $474.7 million in sales.
In two of the best-performing size categories in October — 26 to 35 feet and 46 to 55 feet — sales volume was behind 2011 after the first three quarters of the year. With October’s numbers on the books, however, they moved ahead, and all sizes below 80 feet were in positive territory for the year.
John Burnham is the editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.
This article originally appeared in the December 2012 issue.