Brokerage sales highest since mid-2007

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Brokerage sales in the United States increased in May to 3,518 boats, a gain of 7.8 percent from May 2011 and the highest volume of sales achieved in the last five years.


According to member brokerages reporting in their proprietary database,, this was the highest number of boats sold in one month since July 2007.

Contrasted with the milestone sales figure, the $329.8 million in aggregate value of the boats sold in May was significantly lower than in May 2011, when $552.6 million in sales were recorded. That largely can be explained by the sale of 30 superyachts for $254 million in May a year ago; this year, only nine transactions were reported in May, totaling $31 million.

Sales of all boats over 55 feet were a relatively bright spot for brokers for the last year, but not so in May. Sales of boats this size decreased from 114 a year earlier to 85 this year, a 25.4 percent decline.

Sales in all other size ranges increased in May, with the smallest boats gaining the most; 1,116 boats under 26 feet changed hands, an increase of 17.8 percent from 948 a year earlier. For the year, this category has gained 13.3 percent, with sales of 4,237 boats. Boats of 36 to 45 feet, the midsize category, also sold well at 731, a 6.9 percent gain, bringing that range’s year-to-date total to 2,549, a 5.4 percent increase.

The smallest percentage growth was for the highest-volume category of boats, 26 to 35 feet, which was up 3.8 percent to 1,409 boats. This category has been relatively weaker all year, although with May’s positive results, sales for 2012 have now exceeded sales for 2011 by five boats at 4,761.

Although the lower total value of sales among the big boats was mentioned above, brokers reported a lower valuation of sales among boats 26 to 35 feet and 46 to 55 feet despite selling more boats. Among the under-26-footers, value (up 16.3 percent) increased roughly in proportion to volume (up 17.8 percent). Only in the 36- to 45-foot size were higher average prices recorded, with a 9 percent gain in sales value exceeding the 6.9 percent gain in the number of boats sold.

We’ve observed some downward pressure in 2012 on the average time a boat is listed before selling on, and in May the average across all sizes declined significantly, from 306 days to 270. It’s hard to read too much into this, given that big boats typically sell more slowly and that fewer were sold in May when compared to May 2011.

Likewise, the growth in sales of boats under 26 feet, which averaged 168 days to sell, reduced the overall average. But for the year to date, the average time to sale for all sizes has declined 4.6 percent, from 281 days to 268, which seems to be a good indication of higher demand and increased willingness to sell. n

John Burnham is the editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.

This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue.