Big-boat sales valuations dip in June

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June unit sales in the U.S. yacht-brokerage market showed single-digit gains compared to sales in June 2009, but the total valuation of those sales fell by 7 percent.

Unit sales increased 6 percent, from 3,176 boats to 3,371, but sales valuation slipped from $307 million to $285 million, according to reports by YachtWorld.com member brokers in the proprietary database SoldBoats.com.

Among boats larger than 55 feet, unit sales improved 21 percent compared to June 2009, but the total weight of the dollars changing hands for big boats lightened up considerably, from $98 million in June 2009 to $59 million in June 2010. This is a continuation of a spring roller coaster ride for big-boat brokers. Sales in March, April and May this year were $148 million, $80 million and $94 million, respectively. To date, it's hard to see a defining pattern, but some brokers are no doubt feeling queasy on this ride.

By comparison, all other size ranges reported higher sales volume in June '10 over June '09, especially in the 36- to 45-foot range and the 46- to 55-foot range, which were up 18 percent and 23 percent, respectively. Sales valuations were also up modestly in all sizes - 26 to 55 feet - from 7 to 20 percent.

Compared to a five-year average for unit sales, which for June 2006-2010 stands at 3,513 boats, last month's numbers are significantly better than the two previous years but are well short of 2005-2007, when 3,750 to 4,000 boats were the norm.

For the year-to-date, 2010 continues to show improvement over 2009, but as the economic recovery has flattened, the dramatic double-digit gains of the first quarter have now dropped to single digits. However, for the year, units are still up significantly, at 19 percent, and valuations even more so, at 29 percent.

For the third straight month, the average time it took to sell a boat was more than 300 days, which suggests that the market is still working through unsold inventory. Notably, although sailboats are taking just as long to sell as powerboats, their valuation in June transactions was up 12 percent, while power was down almost 10 percent.

A more detailed report on June 2010 brokerage sales, including a special report on sales in the Mid-Atlantic region, will appear in the upcoming issue of Soundings Trade Only.

— John Burnham, YachtWorld.com

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