It’s one month into the new year and, after finishing 2016 in the doldrums, the U.S. brokerage market has made a fast start.
The number of boats sold rose 5 percent in January, compared with the same month last year, according to YachtWorld member brokerages reporting in SoldBoats, their proprietary database. The total price paid climbed even more, 7 percent, and that’s not counting the superyacht market, where brokers sold 17 boats for $131.6 million.
By contrast, at the end of 2016 sales were down nationally by 3 percent from 2015 — the third year in a row of incrementally lower sales. The market had ratcheted down from 31,652 boats sold in 2013 to 29,381 last year. So for brokers across the country, January’s results were a welcome relief.
In one state, though, brokers have been defying the market’s downward trend for quite some time, increasing sales and market share steadily. As the table at right shows, every year but once during the last five years Florida brokers sold more boats than the year before. Since 2012 they have increased their sales from 5,473 boats to 6,248, a 14 percent pickup.
Will the rest of the country catch up soon? Not if the January results are an indication. Florida brokerage sales increased 15 percent and the average sale price rose 45 percent. Part of the value gain was attributable to sales of some particularly expensive superyachts, but the gains were real in most every size range, just as they have been for several years.
In the 26- to 35-foot and 36- to 45-foot ranges, the number of boats sold increased by 14 percent during the five-year period; among boats from 46 to 55 feet, the gain was 22 percent. Similarly, for 56- to 79-foot boats and those 80 feet and up, sales also rose by more than 20 percent.
The size range with the slowest growth in Florida brokerage sales was boats smaller than 26 feet, at 10 percent, but even there brokers maximized their returns, increasing the total price paid between 2012 and 2016 by 50 percent.
Value gains were notable in almost every other size, with 26- to 35-foot boats rising 42 percent and the other sizes between 36 and 79 feet up in the 20 to 25 percent range. The exception was the superyacht size, beginning at 80 feet; boat sales and the total price paid increased dramatically in 2013, but they have come back to earth since then.
The other notable statistic about Florida brokerage sales is that brokers have steadily reduced the average days required to sell a boat. The number of days that boats under 26 feet and over 80 feet were listed for sale has remained relatively flat since 2012, but sales in all other sizes are averaging between one and 2-1/2 months faster. To achieve that while increasing the prices paid is a sign of a strong marketplace.
Florida has significantly strengthened its leadership position in U.S. yacht sales as a whole. Twenty-one percent of the U.S. brokerage boats that were sold in 2016 were sold in the Sunshine State.
John Burnham is the managing editor of Boats Group (formerly Dominion Marine Media).
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue.