Brokerage sales show signs of improvement during April and May

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U.S. brokerage sales have rebounded during the first two months of the second quarter after poor weather severely affected first-quarter sales in many Eastern and Midwestern states.

Overall sales of brokered powerboats and sailboats in the first five months of the year remained 623 behind the strong pace set in the same period last year, but they have lately shown significant improvement, according to dealers reporting in YachtWorld’s Soldboats.com database.

In May alone, 3,653 boats changed owners, well above the five-year average for the month and within three percentage points of May 2013 — the highest sales-volume month the market has experienced since 2008.

The market’s total dollar value for the year through May was $1.48 billion, down $176 million, or 11 percent, from 2013. Yet the total dollar value of yachts over 80 feet that were sold during the period was off by a greater amount, $191 million, so the total price paid for all boats below 80 feet actually rose $15 million, compared with the first five months of 2013.

The total number of boats sold during the period was 5 percent less than in 2013, at 12,303, down from 12,926. On a percentage basis, the declines were evenly split between powerboats and sailboats. Year-to-date powerboat sales volume declined to 10,108 boats from 10,615 and sailboat activity decreased to 2,195 boats from 2,311. The value of powerboat sales was off 9 percent, at $1.3 billion, from $1.43 billion, and sailboat dollar volume fell 21 percent, to $175 million, from $221 million.

Most of the volume decline was among sales of small to medium-size boats. In the under 26-foot category, unit sales fell 7 percent, to 4,119 boats, from 4,423. Sales in the 26- to 35-foot category dropped by 5 percent, to 4,564, from 4,808.

Although sales of boats from 46 to 55 feet were essentially flat, the 56- to 79-foot category saw a significant increase, rising by 11 percent for the year through May, to 331 boats. Dollar volume rose 10 percent, to $235 million, from $213 million, indicating level average sale prices.

Average prices for small boats contrasted with those for large boats. For the year through May, all sizes of boats under 45 feet continued to show higher average sale prices. In May alone, although volume declines were registered in sales of boats 36 to 45 feet, 26 to 35 feet and under 26 feet, the total price paid for the boats sold was higher in each case than in May of last year.

Gary Beckett regularly writes for the quarterly YachtWorld Market Index, which is published by Dominion Marine Media.

This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue.

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