U.S. brokerages recorded improved sales from May through October this year, compared with the same months a year earlier, and the October results fit the trend for the period — 2,318 boats sold, a 4 percent increase.
During the first 10 months of the year 27,852 boats were sold, an increase of 1,298, or 5 percent, from the previous year, according to YachtWorld member brokerages reporting sales in their proprietary database, Soldboats.com.
Gains in the shorter-length, high-volume end of the market in October continued to push up the unit sales figure, There was a 10 percent increase, to 975, in sales of boats 26 to 35 feet.
Big-boat sales had been lower in September, compared with the same month last year, but positive October results suggest it was just a pause for the higher end of the market. The 56- to 79-foot segment made the largest gains in October, with 54 boats sold, an increase of 20 percent.
Running counter to the market trend for the month, sailboat sales were 6 percent lower, with 457 boats sold. During the first three quarters of the year the sail sector performed better than the power sector, but after 10 months the sectors were even, with both showing 5 percent gains.
This month, we look more closely at powerboat brokerage sales: 22,886 boats have changed hands through October this year. In broad terms, sales in the top end of the market were relatively flat, compared with the previous year, with 25 more boats sold over 45 feet, for a total of 1,875.
By contrast, the market for smaller boats improved in each of the smaller size ranges. The highest volume was in the segment under 26 feet, where 8,611 boats were sold. The strongest growth, at 6 percent, was in the 26- to 35-foot range, where 8,479 boats were sold.
Powerboat values, as measured by the aggregate price of all boats sold, rose among boats of most sizes during the period. The biggest dollar gain was in the superyacht category, with 145 boats sold at an aggregate price of $885.1 million; this was an increase of nearly 100 percent from the first 10 months of 2012, when 129 boats were sold for $452.4 million.
The only category that showed a decline in the total price paid was the 56- to 79-foot segment, where sales declined 1 percent, from 579 boats to 575, and value declined 6 percent, from $413.5 million to $388.3 million.
Among all size ranges below 55 feet, values increased, with the under-26-foot and 26- to 35-foot ranges rising the most on a percentage basis — 10 and 9 percent, respectively. The average price paid increased among all smaller boats except those in the 36- to 45-foot category, which was level.
John Burnham is the editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.
This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue.