The U.S. brokerage market had a rough ride in May, experiencing an 8 percent dip in sales volume after two months in positive territory.
Total volume was 3,324 boats, down from 3,597 in May of last year, according to YachtWorld member brokerages reporting in SoldBoats, their proprietary database. The total value of boats sold increased 2 percent for the month, rising $7.1 million, to $407.8 million.
The month’s lowlights were a 230-boat decline in the segment under 26 feet and a 101-boat drop among boats from 26 to 35 feet. On the positive side, sales were up 21 percent in the segment from 46 to 55 feet, climbing from 173 to 210.
A smaller increase of 25, or 3 percent, occurred among boats from 36 to 45 feet. The aggregate price paid in both categories grew strongly, fueling the overall gain in value for the month.
This month, we produced a new study of global brokerage sales by YachtWorld members, roughly three-quarters in the United States and the rest in Europe. The data shown in the adjacent table report on sales during a 12-month period that ended March 31 and are divided into five-year increments, based on the year the boat was built and split between power and sail.
The table displays three types of sales data: 1) the number of boats sold, based on the year they were built; 2) the average sold price for boats of that age; and 3) the average number of days a boat was listed before a sale was completed, segmented by boat length.
It may surprise some readers that so many pre-1990 boats are still on the market and selling. Nearly 10,000 of those that were sold during the 12-month period were built before 1990. Of note, roughly the same number of sailboats were sold as powerboats, although among boats built after 1990, powerboat sales dramatically outnumber sailboat sales.
The largest concentration of brokerage boats sold were built between 2000 and 2010 — almost 18,000. We know from other studies and can infer from this one that there are notably fewer boats for sale that were built since the last recession.
The meat of this study is in the section on the average number of days required to sell a boat after it was listed. Averages can be skewed by small data samples, and that evidently is the case in some of the sail figures for boats 80-feet-plus. Regardless, the report clearly demonstrates that newer and smaller boats generally sold faster during the period.
Among the smallest powerboats, those built after 2011 averaged 181 days to sale, nearly a month more than those built from 1996 to 2010, but for all larger powerboats, newer models sold much faster, and until you look at boats larger than 56 feet, all sold in about seven to eight months, whereas older boats average nine months to more than a year.
Among sailboats, the most recent models sold one to three months faster than boats six years and older, but the average days to sale don’t follow a uniform curve after that, perhaps because so many of the boats for sale were built before 1990 and there is still such an active market for those older boats.
Overall, with an average of 329 days on the market, compared with 267 for powerboats, sailboat sellers have to be more patient for the right buyer to come along.
John Burnham is the managing editor of Dominion Marine Media.
This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue.