After a couple of sluggish months, brokerage sales in the U.S. got a positive bounce in March, gaining 10 percent from March 2015, with 2,443 boats sold. According to YachtWorld member brokerages reporting sales in SoldBoats, their proprietary database, volume for the first quarter of 2016 was 5,564 boats — 2 percent higher than in the same period in 2015. Growth in the quarter was mainly attributable to higher sales of boats under 26 feet and between 36 and 45 feet.
The shift in the total value of sales in the quarter did not follow the volume rise, declining by 6 percent, or $46 million. For the most part, this was attributable to the sale of less expensive vessels in the segment 56 feet and larger.
Both power and sailboat categories made small gains for the quarter. Sailboat sales rose 1 percent, with 1,025 boats sold, although the aggregate price declined 11 percent, to $73.7 million. Powerboat sales rose 2 percent, with 4,539 boats sold, but the aggregate price paid was down 6 percent, to $629.9 million.
Among powerboats, sales volume was level or higher except in the 46- to 55-foot range, which backtracked 4 percent after being a strong category for much of 2015. The biggest volume gain was among boats under 26 feet, which also sold at a higher average price — up from $24,100 to $26,300.
Sales of powerboats 36 to 45 feet were up 6 percent with a 9 percent rise in average value from $144,800 to $158,200. Large-yacht segments also gained in unit sales, but the pricing declined. This was notably the case among boats 80 feet and longer, which sold for a total value of $133.3 million — down from $188.4 million, and at an average price that decreased from $4.7 million to $3.1 million.
For brokers selling sailboats, about half of the $10 million decline in the total price paid was attributable to lower sales of boats over 56 feet. The rest was largely from a steep drop in the average sold prices of boats 46 to 55 feet — down 21 percent, from $221,000 to $174,000. Sales of boats under 45 feet were level or higher, although the average price was slightly lower in that segment, as well.
We compared the national figures for the quarter with those in Florida, the largest regional market in the country, and noted that the volume in that bellwether state was up 5 percent, with 1,525 boats sold. Although Florida sales volume rose faster than elsewhere in the country, the value of those sales decreased by $38 million, which accounted for much of the $46 million decline nationwide.
The gains in Florida sales volumes were significant among boats under 26 feet and over 55 feet, and relatively stable in the segments from 26 to 55 feet. The changes in average sold prices were quite a different story — sinking by double-digit percentages for boats 56 feet and higher, yet rising in segments 55 feet and below. Average values were up 15 percent among boats 36 to 45 feet and up 9 percent under 26 feet.
John Burnham is managing editor of Dominion Marine Media.
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue.