2015 ended with U.S. brokerage sales at nearly the same level as in 2014 — the number of boats sold declined 1 percent, and the total value of those sales rose 2 percent.
For the year, 30,077 boats were sold for a reported $3.7 billion, according to YachtWorld member yacht brokerages recording sales in SoldBoats, their proprietary database.
Sales volume in December was also down 1 percent, compared with the same month a year earlier, but the total price paid for the boats that were sold fell 5 percent, from $271.6 million to $256.8 million.
The value decline in December was primarily attributable to weaker big-boat sales. The number of sold boats larger than 80 feet was down from 16 to 11, and the price that was paid fell more than $14 million, to $62.9 million. Among boats from 56 to 79 feet, sales were down by only two boats, at 59, but the total value declined by nearly $9 million, to $44.6 million.
By contrast, December sales of boats from 46 to 55 feet were up by two, to 128, from the previous December and the aggregate price of sales in the range was up 23 percent, or more than $7 million, to $40.8 million. In terms of sales volume, boats 26 to 35 feet made up the strongest market segment; volume was up 3 percent, to 602 boats, and the total price paid rose $2.1 million, to $38.3 million.
December sales were just strong enough to push total annual reported sales over the 30,000 mark again in 2015. Powerboat sales for the year were nearly level, declining from 24,771 to 24,710, but the total price paid for powerboats rose 4 percent, from $3.16 billion to $3.28 billion. The average number of days required to sell a powerboat decreased year over year from 261 to 254.
The sailboat market did not fare as well in 2015, declining 2 percent, with 5,367 boats changing hands. The sales value declined by $45 million, to $417.4 million. About $21 million of that decline was attributable to variation in superyacht sales from one year to the next, but a $17 million decrease was registered in the heart of the market — boats 36 to 45 feet. Sales volume in that category was off by 2 percent, as 2,030 boats were sold, and the sales value was down 8 percent, from $225.1 million to $207.8 million.
Among powerboats and sailboats sold in 2015, the 56- to 79-foot range showed the most growth — up 5 percent, to 806. The total price paid increased 19 percent in the category, with sales up nearly $100 million, to $622.7 million. Boats from 46 to 55 feet also sold well, up 2 percent, at 1,812, and with a 9 percent gain in value, to $535.6 million.
The weakest category for the year in terms of sales volume was boats under 26 feet — down 4 percent, with 9,130 boats sold. By contrast, sales of boats 26 to 35 feet were up 1 percent, as 11,550 were sold, and the total value was up 4 percent to $689.7 million.
John Burnham is the managing editor of Dominion Marine Media.
This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue.