Brokerage sales see big boost in May

Publish date:

Big-boat sales pushed the total value of brokerage boats sold into unfamiliar territory in May, with $317 million in sales of boats over 55 feet contributing to $552 million in sales of boats of all sizes.


Although member brokerages reported nearly the same number of boats sold in May as in May 2010, the value of the sales was higher than in any month in recent years.

Unit sales were 3 percent lower in May than in the same month a year earlier. Brokers sold 3,253 boats — down from 3,359 in May 2010, but on track with previous months this year.

The rise in sales value can partially be attributed to the fact that 39 percent more boats over 55 feet were sold — an increase from 82 to 114 boats. But clearly the boats sold were of higher value as well, because they brought in $317 million — a 239 percent increase from $93 million.

According to, the proprietary database in which member brokers report sales, the May numbers are the strongest in sales value for U.S. brokers since before the recession. Big-boat sales are, however, unpredictable, and they can swing market valuation dramatically in a single month, as they did last November, when 77 boats sold for $231 million. We’ll watch the market for a few months before proclaiming any kind of a trend.

For the first five months of this year, the total value of brokerage boats sold in the United States was $1.45 billion — an increase of 8 percent from $1.35 billion in 2010. Unit sales were down 4 percent, with sales dropping from 12,348 to 11,913 boats. As in previous months this year, the number of boats sold remained slightly below the five-year average, which for May is 3,395.

The weakest segment of the market in May was boats under 26 feet, with brokerage sales of only 947 boats — down 10 percent from 1,047 a year earlier. Most other segments recorded relatively flat sales, but valuations did surge in the 46- to 55-foot range from $44 million to $50 million, despite sales of nearly the same number of boats — 161 this year, 162 last year.

The average time a boat remained on the market before selling increased significantly in May to 308 days — in part because of the larger proportion of big boats selling. They typically take longer to sell. In May of last year the time-to-sale average was 299 days. n

John Burnham is the editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.

This brokerage sales data is unaudited and is voluntarily supplied to by member brokers. These charts do not represent all boats sold by all brokers, but 95 percent of member brokers in the United States contribute sales information., and Soundings Trade Only are owned by Dominion Enterprises.

This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue.