Boats from 46 to 55 feet are leading unit-sales gains, increasing 23 percent halfway through 2010
Yacht brokerage unit sales in the United States increased by 6 percent in June, when compared to the same month in 2009. That was about the same percentage gain as in May, but valuations took a hit in June, dropping 7 percent and perhaps warning that brokerage sales have a ways to go before reconnecting with prerecession sales curves.
YachtWorld.com member yacht brokerages reported that total valuation of sales dropped to $285 million, down from $327 million in May and $307 million in June 2009. However, unit sales reports totaled 3,371 boats in June, up from 3,176 in June a year ago and just a little short of the 3,513-boat five-year average for June unit sales.
The source of the valuation drop was in powerboat sales, which declined 10 percent or about $26 million. Looking at sales by size of boat, we find that sales of boats more than 55 feet slipped by nearly $40 million, from $98 million to $59 million for the month. So while all other categories were flat or made gains, they couldn't make up for the lack of sales of large powerboats.
The best-performing size category was boats 46 to 55 feet, which were up 20 percent in value from $37 million to $45 million on unit-sales gains of 23 percent, from 134 to 165 boats. Halfway through the year, on a percentage basis, this is now the strongest category in terms of valuation, up almost 36 percent to $224 million.
The other bright spot for brokers in June was in sailboat sales, which showed a valuation increase of 12 percent, or nearly $5 million, even though unit sales of boats with masts increased only 3 percent from 550 to 565 boats. After a slow start, sailboat sales for the year are slightly above power on a percentage basis, up 21 percent in unit sales and 32 percent in valuation, compared to power's 19 percent and 28 percent, respectively.
Focus on the Mid-Atlantic
Despite being a relatively small minority of all brokerage transactions, sailboat sales have also made a difference in this month's featured region, the Mid-Atlantic, which covers Georgia to Delaware. A year ago, the Mid-Atlantic helped lead the rebound in unit brokerage sales with big increases in number of boats sold under 26 feet, many of which were powerboats. In the intervening 12 months, unit sales of sailboats have picked up steam in the region, increasing from 17.7 percent of all brokerage sales to 21.4 percent last month.
While unit sales of powerboats for June 2010 compared to June 2009 were down slightly in the Mid-Atlantic, from 454 boats to 443 boats, 18 percent more sailboats were sold, up from 92 to 109 boats. Valuation of the powerboats sold was down $1 million, to $29 million, while sailboat valuation increased more than $2 million, to $10 million.
Year-to-date, power is up 6 percent to 2,043 boats sold and sail is up 34 percent to 556 boats. Powerboat valuations have seen solid growth of 27 percent to $147 million; on a percentage basis, sailboat valuations have grown event faster, by 56 percent to $47 million.
These sailboat sales apparently didn't happen overnight. The time needed to sell a sailboat has stretched out to nearly 11 months (325 days) in the Mid- Atlantic, almost 50 days more than a year ago and 17 days more than the U.S. average. Powerboats are also taking longer to sell. The average Mid-Atlantic time to sell has moved from 214 days to 249 days, well under the U.S. average of 289 days for powerboats.
With half of 2010 in their wake, Mid-Atlantic brokers have recorded unit sales up 11 percent compared to 2009, with 2,599 boats sold. That lags some 8 percentage points behind the national average, but total sales valuation of $195 million for the first half of the year represents a 33 percent increase, some 4 percent ahead of the U.S. increase of 29 percent, to $1.64 billion.
John Burnham is editorial director of YachtWorld.com.
This article originally appeared in the August 2010 issue.