Superyacht sales drive brokerage values higher

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The number of boats that U.S. yacht brokerages sold in October was lower than in the same month last year, but the total value of boats sold increased significantly. For this issue’s story of aggregate sales reported by YachtWorld.com member brokerages we took a closer look at sales of superyachts (boats over 80 feet) to see to what extent they’ve been affecting recent market results.

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Unit sales for the U.S. market as a whole were down to 1,922 in October from 2,130 in October 2010, yet the value of those sales rose from $195 million to $259 million. Much of the drop in the number of boats sold was attributable to lower volume among boats under 35 feet, which fell from 1,484 to 1,281. The value of those sales declined at a similar rate, from $60 million to $49 million.

Sales of boats in the middle range (36 to 45 feet) showed a very small drop in units, but maintained a total value of $60 million, the same as a year earlier. Among boats over 45 feet, the results were quite different; although only a few more boats were sold this year than last, their total value more than doubled — from $74 million to $149 million.

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The key driver of these higher values, as has been the case for the last several months, was the traffic in boats over 80 feet. In October, 14 boats in this size range were sold at an average of more than $5 million each. A year earlier, the sector was relatively quiet, with eight boats changing hands at barely more than $1 million a boat.

For the first 10 months of this year, YachtWorld.com brokers in the United States have reported 130 sales of boats over 80 feet — a 16 percent increase from 112 boats in 2010. The valuation of these sales climbed from $355 million in 2010 to $695 million in 2011 — a 96 percent gain. On average, the sales price for a boat of this size increased from $3.1 million to $5.3 million.

To say the least, the impact of the superyacht sector on the total value of sales has been significant. For 2011 to date, $2.912 billion in overall sales were recorded marketwide, an increase of $347 million. All but $7 million of that gain can be attributed to the higher-value sales that took place among boats over 80 feet.

At the same time, sales values were up for boats between 45 and 80 feet. The 46- to 55-foot segment grew from $374 million to $387 million, and the 55- to 80-foot segment climbed from $419 million to $465 million. Combined with the growth in the value of superyacht sales, the top half of the market grew by $399 million in 2011 from 2010, through October.

By contrast, the smaller-boat half of the market (boats under 45 feet) recorded sales price values in the first 10 months that were lower by 4 percent, from $1.48 billion to $1.37 billion. This was roughly proportional to the 3 percent decrease in unit sales for boats of that size.

John Burnham is editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.

This brokerage sales data is unaudited and is voluntarily supplied to SoldBoats.com by YachtWorld.com member brokers. These charts do not represent all boats sold by all brokers, but 95 percent of YachtWorld.com member brokers in the United States contribute sales information.

This article originally appeared in the December 2011 issue.

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