Whether because of a warm winter, a rising stock market or a post-election bounce, U.S. brokerage sales volume and total valuation increased for the second month running in February.
Sales rose 7 percent to 1,729 for the month and they were running 6 percent ahead for the year through February with 3,314 boats sold, according to YachtWorld member brokers reporting in SoldBoats, their proprietary database.
After a big valuation lift in January on the backs of superyacht sales, the $13 million increase in February was modest. Sales of boats larger than 55 feet declined, compared with the previous February, but strength in the middle and smaller segments brought the total industry valuation to $233.4 million, up from $220.1 million. For the year through February, the aggregate price paid was $555.7 million, up from $420.1 million.
This month, we look back at 2016 to gain a better composite picture of the U.S. market with a study of the 10 most popular classes of boats sold during the year. As the adjacent table indicates, 29,263 boats were sold last year; 21,326 of them were from the top 10 classes.
Power cruisers and center consoles stood out as the most popular, with more than 3,000 of each changing owners. Motoryachts, unsurprisingly, sold for the most money, averaging nearly half a million dollars. Sportfishing yachts were a clear second, just north of a quarter million; bowriders were 10th at about $34,000.
By median length, motoryachts were easily the longest, at 48 feet, nine feet longer than the typical trawler, which was second-longest. Bowriders were the smallest at a median 22 feet, two feet shorter than the median-length center console.
The oldest boats on the market were the sailboats — cruisers and cruiser/racers — with a median model year of 1992. Trawlers were equally long in the tooth.
The newest-model-year boats were the bowriders, with a median year of 2007. Center consoles and saltwater fishing boats were right behind at 2006 and 2005, respectively.
Showing the staying power of boats on the brokerage market, the median model year for all boats sold in 2016 was 2000.
Showing the appeal of newer boats, the fastest sellers on the market were the newest boats — center consoles, saltwater fishing boats and bowriders — and all sold, on average, in less than six months. Several of the other classes averaged between 10 months and one year, and although the length and scale of purchase were likely factors, age undoubtedly was, too.
John Burnham is the managing editor of Boats Group (formerly Dominion Marine Media).
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue.