With 1,866 boats sold in November, U.S. brokerage sales rose 6 percent from the same month last year — a welcome market rebound after slower sales were reported in October.
2015 sales volumes from May through November have been higher, except in October, according to YachtWorld member brokers reporting in SoldBoats, their proprietary database.
The total price paid for sales in November was $271.5 million, an 8 percent increase from the same month in 2014. The value of sales was up in four of six market segments — boats 56 to 79 feet and all three segments below 45 feet.
Average sold prices were relatively stable through the high-volume section of the market, but down 10 percent for boats 46 to 55 feet, from $305,828 to $275,924. Among boats from 56 to 79 feet, prices were up 59 percent, from $550,746 to $735,621.
Through 11 months this year, U.S. sales were 1 percent below 2014, with 28,482 boats sold. The total price paid was 3 percent higher, with $3.45 billion changing hands.
Last month we reported on the three Atlantic regional markets. This month we reviewed the Great Lakes, Gulf Coast, West and Pacific Northwest.
Pacific Northwest (Washington, Idaho, British Columbia, Alaska): Through November, brokers sold 1,719 boats, 4 percent more than in 2014, and the total value of sales rose from $213.8 million to $375.3 million. The highest-volume part of the market was boats 26 to 35 feet, as sales rose 2 percent, but the value growth occurred in big-boat sales, with sales of boats larger than 80 feet up from eight to 13. Among boats 46 to 55 feet, sales rose 6 percent, and in the 56- to 79-foot range, the growth was 20 percent, with 73 boats sold.
The Pacific Northwest is a relatively strong sailboat market; 24 percent of boats sold have masts. Growth in sailboat sales this year was 6 percent; the gain was 3 percent for powerboats. Despite generally positive year-to-date numbers, in the first two months of the fourth quarter, sales in the region fell 10 percent, mostly because of fewer powerboat sales.
West (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming): Brokers saw a significant drop in sales in 2015, at 2,868 boats, down 18 percent from 3,502 a year earlier. The total value was off 5 percent, at $309.5 million, but the average price of boats of most sizes rose. Sailboats account for roughly 30 percent of sales in this region. Both types of boats sold more slowly in 2015, with sailboats down 15 percent and powerboats down 19 percent.
The 26- to 35-foot and 36- to 45-foot segments saw declining sales of 15 and 12 percent, respectively. The hardest-hit category was boats smaller than 26 feet, down 36 percent, with 558 boats sold. Only among the biggest boats — larger than 56 feet — were sales better than a year earlier.
Great Lakes (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin): Sales through November were 11 percent higher than in 2014, at 3,563 boats. The total price paid was up 15 percent, at $253.7 million. Power and sailboat sales were higher by double digits, with sail slightly higher at 14 percent.
Boats 26 to 35 feet were the top sellers, at 1,589, and boats under 26 feet were next, at 1,085. Both categories showed positive growth of 10 percent and 6 percent, respectively.
The fastest-growing segments on a percentage basis were 56- to 79-footers, up 32 percent with 33 boats sold, and 36- to 45-footers, up 23 percent with 732 boats sold.
Gulf Coast (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas): In this region, total sales of 1,483 boats were nearly identical to 2014 levels, thanks to a modest fourth-quarter rally that also drove the total value of sales up 12 percent, to $130 million. Power and sailboat categories reported nearly the same volume of sales, but the average sold price rose 16 percent for powerboats and fell 11 percent for sailboats.
Volume gains were among boats under 26 feet and boats 46 to 55 feet. Although other segments had small volume declines, most reported a higher total sales value. The strongest gains were made among boats from 56 to 79 feet, but all segments under 45 feet showed value growth, as well.
John Burnham is managing editor of Dominion Marine Media.
This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue.