Through September, U.S. brokerage sales remained below their 2013 pace by 5 percent as 24,382 boats were sold, compared with 25,687 a year earlier.
But some parts of the country saw a lift in sales through the first nine months of this year, according to YachtWorld member brokers who supplied the data via reports to SoldBoats.com, their proprietary database.
One of those was California, where sales rose 3 percent and have increased incrementally each year since 2011. This month, we take a longer view of the market in California by comparing our current year with 2010, the last strong year in sales, to observe similarities and differences.
What we saw is that through the first nine months this year, California brokers sold 2 percent fewer boats than in 2010; 2,363 were sold this year, compared with 2,409 in 2010. The value of the boats sold declined from $247.9 million to $241 million, a 3 percent decrease. Average sale prices were down 1 percent, from $102,891 to $101,981.
A fundamental difference in the California brokerage market is that whereas nationally fewer than one in five boats sold is a sailboat, in California close to one in three boats sold has a mast and sails. So it’s also of greater note than in some other regions that in 2014, compared with 2010, sailboat sales have increased slightly, by 2 percent, and powerboat sales have declined by 4 percent.
In fact, the total price paid for powerboats sold in California was 9 percent lower in 2014 than in 2010, which decreased the average value of a powerboat sold from $114,578 to $108,614. By comparison, the total price paid for sailboats sold this year in California was $65.2 million, up about $10 million from the same period in 2010. The average sale price followed suit, increasing from $75,957 to $87,574.
Another major difference since 2010 was that fewer small boats and more mid-size boats were sold in 2014. Sales of boats under 26 feet declined 25 percent, with 425 boats sold, and sales in the segment of boats 26 to 35 feet were off by 4 percent, with 883 sold. On the other hand, sales were up 14 percent among boats 36 to 45 feet and 18 percent for boats 46 to 55 feet.
Average prices were stable in the 26- to 35-foot and 46- to 55-foot categories, but declined 3 percent for boats under 26 feet and 5 percent for boats 36 to 45 feet.
Although the large-yacht market remained relatively similar in size between 2010 and 2014, there were small notable variations. For boats 56 to 79 feet, sales were up 4 percent, with 72 boats sold, yet the total price paid for the boats was down by 32 percent, from $60.7 million to $41.4 million, as boats sold for much lower average prices.
Nine superyachts (boats larger than 80 feet) were sold in the first nine months of 2010 and, as well, in the same period in 2014. The total price paid for these boats rose 13 percent, from $13 million to $14.7 million. The superyachts averaged a listing time before selling of 372 days in 2010. Four years later, the average number of days required to sell a superyacht was 627.
John Burnham is the editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.
This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue.