U.S. brokerage sales fell 4 percent in October as 2,219 boats were sold, 97 fewer than in the same month a year earlier.
The total sales value declined 17 percent, from $319.6 million to $264.7 million, according to YachtWorld member brokerages reporting in SoldBoats, their proprietary database.
Sales volumes had been higher year over year in each of the previous four months.
October sales were lower by 4 percent in the 26- to 35-foot and 36- to 45-foot segments, although the total value of boats sold at those lengths was up by 4 and 3 percent, respectively.
Where boat values slipped was in the bigger-boat categories. Among boats larger than 80 feet, the total price paid, $39.7 million, was down 50 percent. Boats from 56 to 79 feet were down 18 percent in total sales value, at $44.1 million, and sales of boats from 46 to 55 feet were lower in value by 22 percent, as sales totaled $39.9 million.
For the year through October, U.S. sales were 1 percent lower, as 26,585 boats were sold, and total sales value was 2 percent higher, at $3.17 billion. Powerboat values were up 4 percent, and sailboat values were noticeably lower, down 6 percent.
This month we ran a study of sales in the three Atlantic regions — Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. In general, the warmer the region, the stronger the sales picture was.
Southeast (Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee): Unlike their colleagues in much of the country, brokers in the Southeast sold more powerboats and sailboats during the first 10 months of this year than they did in the same months in 2014. They also sold them faster than brokers in other regions and faster than they did a year earlier; the average time to sell a boat declined 5 percent, to 230 days.
Although the market moved more quickly, the total price paid declined 8 percent during the period. Sailboat values increased proportionate to the segment’s volume gains and maintained average prices year over year, but the much larger powerboat market experienced a value decline of 9 percent.
This was attributable to fewer superyacht sales. A year earlier, brokers in the region sold 132 boats for an average price of $4.75 million; this year, they sold 112 boats for $3.47 million apiece — a $238 million difference. All other length segments of the market made gains, but through 10 months the Southeast’s sales value was down $129 million.
Mid-Atlantic (Washington, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia): Brokers in this region reported volume levels this year through October in keeping with the nation as a whole — down 1 percent — and the total value of boats they sold was level, which was below the 2 percent gain the overall U.S. brokerage market made.
Generally speaking, Mid-Atlantic brokers sold incrementally fewer powerboats and more sailboats than in 2014, but the average sold prices were up slightly for powerboats and down slightly for sailboats.
Sales were up among 46- to 55-footers by 16 percent and among 36- to 45-footers by 3 percent, well ahead of national norms. But in the high-volume small-boat categories 35 feet and below, Mid-Atlantic sales lagged the country as a whole.
Northeast (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont): The volume of sales in this region through October was 6 percent lower than in 2014, and the total price paid was down 4 percent. Traditionally a sailboat stronghold, relatively speaking, the Northeast’s sailboat volume was down 9 percent, and values were down 16 percent. Although the average sailboat prices were down, the reverse was the case for powerboat prices. Powerboat sales volume was down 5 percent, as 3,440 boats were sold, but the total value held even and the average final price increased from $72,774 to $76,520.
The number of boats sold in the 26- to 35-foot range was even, with 1,880 boats sold, but sales of boats smaller than 26 feet were down by almost 200 boats. In the 36- to 45-foot range, they were down by 61 boats.
Next month we will report on four other major U.S. regions.
John Burnham is managing editor of Dominion Marine Media.
This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue.