Brokerage sales drop in April, but superyacht segment boosts values

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After three months in which sales volume was well behind its 2013 pace, U.S. brokers closed the gap in April with sales of 2,975 boats, only 2 percent behind the previous April and 4 percent above the five-year average for the month.

The total value of boats sold during the month increased from April 2013 by 5 percent, to $311 million, a change that could be attributed primarily to strong sales of boats larger than 80 feet, according to YachtWorld member brokers reporting in SoldBoats.com, their proprietary database.

Despite the gains, lower April sales volume among boats 26 to 55 feet indicated some continued weakness, either in demand or suitable inventory. Average sale prices for all boats smaller than 55 feet improved, as they generally have this year, indicating that demand may not be a problem.

In this report we’ll look at market segments that showed changing trend lines, starting with a surge in sales among boats smaller than 26 feet. The number that sold in April was higher by 6 percent, at 1,093, compared with the same month last year, after it was lower by double-digit percentages during the first quarter this year.

The total value of boats sold increased by 10 percent, to $24.6 million, reflecting higher average sale prices, a trend that has been consistent in this category all year. All but 51 of the boats sold in this size range were powerboats.

After showing level sales in the 36- to 45-foot range for the first quarter, brokers completed 13 percent fewer deals for boats of this size, compared with the previous April. The total value of the sales declined 12 percent, reflecting stable average prices, but notably the boats sold much faster this year than last, accentuating a trend that has been in place all year.

The average number of days required to sell a boat was 317, down 17 percent; for 2014 as a whole, the number was 326, an 8 percent decline, compared with 2013.

One segment of the market that has reported a different trend in 2014 is boats 56 to 79 feet. Sales volume increased in April by 14 percent and it was 8 percent higher for the year, at 235, yet the total price paid was lower for the month and slightly lower for the year.

Powerboats are dominant in this size, and the average sale price has decreased to $704,000 in 2014 from $748,000 in 2013. Sailboat sales in this size have increased, and the average number of days to sale have climbed from 484 to 817, indicating that movement in this category has been long awaited.

Among boats 80 feet and longer that sold, volume increased to 24 vessels, up 50 percent from 16 last April. The gain pushed total sales for the year to 66, three more boats than during the same period in 2013.

The total value of boats that sold in April was $64.7 million, an 82 percent gain from April 2013.

John Burnham is the editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.

This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue.

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