Member yacht brokerages of YachtWorld.com reported lower U.S. sales of 1,805 boats in November — 6.8 percent fewer than in November 2010, when 1,936 changed hands.
The value of those sales declined 48.5 percent, in part because there were fewer sales of boats over 55 feet (65 boats, down from 77) and, in particular, fewer superyacht sales of boats over 80 feet (eight boats, down from 16).
Compared with 2010, boat sales for the first 11 months of the year were down 2.9 percent and the total valuation was up 5.3 percent. The market is on a trajectory for a likely December finish of roughly 28,650 boats sold and a total valuation of $3.3 billion. In 2010, the year-end numbers were 29,494 boats sold for $3.2 billion; in 2009, 27,195 boats were sold for $2.7 billion.
Looking at this year through November and leaving aside the volatile sales figures for boats over 55 feet, we see relative price stability in a somewhat softer market. Sales in the highest-volume segment of the brokerage market — boats under 35 feet — were down 4 to 5 percent. Among boats 36 to 45 feet, sales were flat, and for boats 46 to 55 feet they were up 1 percent. The average price for sales in the 26- to 35-foot and 46- to 55-foot categories was level; average prices were down slightly in the 36- to 45-foot and the under-26-foot ranges.
This month we also look at the Canadian brokerage market. Though small, it recently has had positive results. In November, sales were up 29.5 percent, to 101 boats sold, and valuations rose 10.8 percent, to $6.7 million. For the year to date, 1,455 boats have been sold, 0.6 percent fewer than in 2010, and values have increased to $106 million, up 2.6 percent.
Given that the total Canadian sales valuation is not skewed significantly by big-boat transactions, it’s reasonable to say that the market overall has strengthened this year. Sales were higher through the middle of the market, with 1,156 boats sold in the 26- to 45-foot range, up from 1,095 in 2010. A notable exception is the relatively small category of brokerage boats under 26 feet; 227 boats in that category were sold through November, compared with 276 a year earlier.
The brokerage market in Canada is generally more sail-oriented than in the United States, with sailboats accounting for 36 percent of sales in 2011 (19 percent in the United States). Through November, sailboat sales were level with 2010 at 529 boats; powerboat sales were down 1 percent, from 935 boats to 926.
The total value of sailboat sales was up 1 percent and the total value of powerboat sales was up 3 percent, probably because more midsize boats and fewer small boats were sold.
John Burnham is the editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.
This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue.