March brokerage sales beat five-year average

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The number of midsize boats sold helped boost first-quarter numbers beset by big-boat decline


Midsize boats were selling the best in the U.S. brokerage market as the first quarter closed, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to sales reported by member brokers.

The total value of sales in three size ranges between 26 and 55 feet was within $2 million of their 2010 valuation. The number of boats sold was level among 26- to 35-footers, and it was 2 to 4 percent higher for boats 36 to 55 feet. However, the market as a whole declined 2 percent because of weakness in the sales of boats over 56 feet and under 25 feet. For the quarter, 5,851 boats were sold, compared with 5,962 a year earlier.

The total value of boats sold fell 16 percent, from $735 million to $618 million. The $117 million drop in valuation can be attributed almost entirely to a 36 percent decline, from $313 million to $200 million, in the valuation of boats sold over 55 feet. Unit sales in the category were also lower, by 14 percent, from 208 to 178.

A note should be made about the reference point - the first quarter of 2010 - when brokers reported the highest values of the year for big-boat sales. In March 2010, the value of boat sales over 55 feet was unusually high, at $148 million, a figure that was only surpassed in November.

The total unit sales figure for this year's first quarter closely tracked the five-year average of 5,884. In March, although sales were incrementally lower than during the same month last year, the 2,585 boats sold beat the five-year average for the month by 2 percent.

Another positive trend brokers reported was a continuing drop in the average time required to sell a boat, as was reported in some detail in the April issue. For 2011 to date, sales have averaged slightly less than nine months, at 267 days, 2 percent fewer than in the first quarter of 2010.

Powerboats are selling five days faster than they were a year earlier, at 259 days, and although sailboats stay on the market longer, for 301 days, that is four fewer days than in 2010.

Overall, powerboat sales were slightly higher in the first quarter of 2011 than during the same period a year earlier. The 4,764 boats sold represented an increase of almost 1 percent. Although the value of powerboats sold was down significantly, at 17 percent, most of the decline was in boats over 55 feet.

Sailboat sales were down 12 percent for the year to date, with 1,087 sold, but values were down only 7 percent, from $95 million to $88 million. On average, therefore, the price of each sailboat that was sold increased.

This brokerage sales data is unaudited and is voluntarily supplied to by member brokers. These charts do not represent all boats sold by all brokers, but 95 percent of member brokers in the United States contribute sales information., and Soundings Trade Only are owned by Dominion Enterprises.

This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue.