The dead of winter is historically a slow sales period in the United States brokerage market for yacht sales, and January appears to have been a slightly below-average sales month with 1,610 boats sold. Still, sales were 29 percent higher than the same month in 2009.
Doing better than most were yacht brokers on the West Coast of the U.S., who sold 339 boats. That represents a 38 percent increase over January 2009, although the increase may also be symptomatic of how slow business was a year ago in the West Coast region we define as California to Alaska (and Hawaii).
This article is based on sales data reported by YachtWorld.com yacht brokers in the Web site's proprietary database called SoldBoats.com. In addition to rising unit sales, their reports also show that the total value of all brokerage boat sales increased 42 percent nationally, to $190 million, and by 47 percent on the West Coast, to $37 million.
Sales of the largest boats (55 feet and larger) made strong gains across the country for the third month in a row, with 66 boats worth $72 million changing hands, up from 37 boats worth $48 million in 2009. Unit sales and total valuations grew in all other size ranges, but were also especially strong in sizes 35 feet and smaller, where valuation gains were in the 50 percent range.
In the West Coast region, the biggest increases in unit sales were 80 percent for boats under 26 feet (88 were sold by West Coast brokers) and by 180 percent over 55 feet (14 boats sold). The largest valuation increases were, unsurprisingly, in the same categories, with totals up between 100 to 160 percent.
One of the West Coast markets strengths has been in sailboat sales and West Coast brokers sold about 30 percent of all sailboats in January. However, this was only 20 percent more than last year, while brokers across the country averaged 26 percent higher sales.
West Coast sailboat valuations also lagged, with only a 9 percent increase in valuation over 2009. Despite being held back by the sailboat sector, a 49 percent surge in powerboat sales on the West Coast from 153 boats in January 2009 to 228 boats in January 2010 was far enough above the national average to make this region a leader in overall sales growth for the month. And powerboat valuations increased by 62 percent to $29 million.
The positive news for the West Coast brokerage market continues a run of six straight months in which unit sales have been higher than the previous year. Increases in valuations have been the same or higher for four months running and January's numbers, on a percentage basis, are the best yet for the region.
This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue.