After four up-and-down months of sales to start 2013, U.S. yacht brokerages turned in eight consecutive months of improved sales, compared with 2012, and collectively sold more than 30,000 boats in a year for the first time since 2007.
There were 31,451 boats that changed owners during the year, an increase of 1,721 from the 29,730 that were sold in 2012, according to reports by YachtWorld member brokers in Soldboats.com, their proprietary database.
The aggregate price paid for boats in December exceeded that paid in December 2012 by $99 million, a remarkable rise that capped a year in which the total value of boats sold increased from $3.26 billion to $3.94 billion. On a percentage basis, the annual increase was 21 percent. Although the volatile market for superyacht sales was responsible for the majority of the ascent, rising by $528 million, gains in total value and average price paid were made in all segments except boats from 56 to 79 feet.
In December, sales of smaller boats declined slightly, but that trend was more than offset by increased sales of midsize and larger boats. The 1,528 boats sold represented a 3 percent increase from the same month a year earlier and the total was 31 boats above the five-year average for December.
For the year as a whole, sales were 6 percent higher than in 2012 and all segments below 55 feet posted improved figures. Among boats 25 feet and shorter, sales rose by 5 percent, with 10,087 boats sold, and the aggregate price paid was up 11 percent, from $198.1 million to $219.3 million. The story is similar in the next three size ranges, with the largest volume increase a 663-boat gain among boats 26 to 35 feet. A total of 12,158 boats were sold in that size range.
Among superyachts, 191 boats were reported sold for an aggregate price of $1.23 billion in 2013. That represented a 22 percent gain in volume from 156 boats sold a year earlier and a 75 percent rise in the total value of boats sold.
The only segment in which fewer boats were sold in 2013 than the previous year was among boats 56 to 79 feet, where sales declined from 730 to 725. The total value of the boats of that size that sold also ran counter to the trend with a 6 percent decline, from $519.3 million to $489 million, indicating lower average pricing.
The volume of sales of both powerboats and sailboats rose approximately in step during the year, with powerboat sales climbing 6 percent and sailboat sales 5 percent. Powerboats accounted for 82 percent of sales in 2013 and sailboats represented 18 percent.
Because most superyachts are powerboats, the aggregate value of the boats sold skews further toward power, which in 2013 amounted to $3.46 billion (88 percent). Sailboat values totaled $484.4 million (12 percent).
John Burnham is the editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.
This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue.