After a slow January, the U.S. brokerage market bounced back in February as sales rose 3 percent from the same month a year earlier.
A total of 1,652 boats were sold in February for $208.6 million, 1 percent more than the $206.7 million in sales last February, according to YachtWorld member brokerages reporting in their proprietary database, SoldBoats.com,
Through February, the market was 1 percent behind 2014, with 3,220 boats sold, and the aggregate price paid was 4 percent lower, at $429.8 million. However, sales in the segment larger than 80 feet were a $50 million drag on total valuation; the rest of the market was $30 million ahead of last year.
The gains came primarily in the 46- to 55-foot range ($19 million) and the 56- to 79-foot range ($16 million), and were offset by a loss of $10 million in the 36- to 45-foot range.
This month, we put the spotlight on U.S. brokerage sales on the West Coast, from California to Alaska and Hawaii and a few nearby inland states. This broad section of the country represented 5,507 boat sales in 2013 and 5,476 in 2014, but despite that slight decline, its share of the U.S. market increased from 16 to 18 percent. The total value of boats sold increased from $546 million to $577 million from 2013 to 2014 and its share of brokerage sales value across the country increased from 13 percent to 15 percent.
In 2015, after two months, the sales picture reported in the West continued to be slightly ahead of many other parts of the nation. The volume of sales was similar, with a 1 percent decrease (688 boats sold), but the total value increased 3 percent, with a total price paid of $69 million.
The powerboat market in the West reported a 6 percent rise, with 502 boats sold, and a total sales value of $55.2 million. The average value of a powerboat sale increased 8 percent, to $110,000. By contrast, the sail market declined 15 percent, to 186 boats sold, and a total value of $13.8 million, down from $18.8 million.
Although this may be a short-term dip, a long-term lack of demand for sailboats would have an impact on Western brokers. The sailboat market represented 27 percent of regional brokerage sales through February this year, compared with 19 percent nationally.
Looking at sales by size range, 64 percent of those completed in January and February by Western brokers were for boats 26 to 35 feet and 36 to 45 feet; the national average was 58 percent. Only 23 percent of boats sold in the West were smaller than 26 feet, compared with 31 percent nationally. In larger sizes, Western brokerage sales were in line with their counterparts elsewhere.
The highest-volume segment in the West was likely affected by the increase in powerboat sales relative to sailboat sales, as the aggregate price paid for boats 26 to 35 feet increased by 18 percent, even as the sales volume declined 9 percent. The average sold-boat price climbed from $45,671 in 2014 to $59,194 in the first two months of 2015.
Notably, the fastest-growing segment in the West after two months this year was boats smaller than 26 feet, which saw a 16 percent increase, with 156 boats sold, and a total value that was 39 percent higher than a year earlier.
John Burnham is the editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.
This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue.