The majority of people who received boat loans in 2017 — 91 percent — were 45 or older, according to new data from the National Marine Lenders Association. The information was gleaned from survey respondents who did aggregate marine sales of more than $3.1 billion last year.
The age of boat-loan recipients increased substantially from 2016, when 30 percent of loans were made to people age 35 to 44. In 2012, only 7 percent of loans were made to people under age 45, according to the report.
“I think the marine financing industry has some work to do to serve that market better,” Jim Coburn, founder of Coburn and Associates and a board member at NMLA, told Trade Only Today.
“On the one hand, you have the affordability issue, and that’s where where the RV industry is kicking the marine industry’s butt. It’s easier for young families to get into those types of units and enjoy recreation together.”
Meanwhile, the average price of a 21-foot boat is in the $75,000 range, Coburn said. While there are less expensive boats, overall prices have see a large increase over the past decade, he said.
“My buying power as a baby boomer at 20 to 30 years old was greater than it is for millennials today,” Coburn said. “It still is an issue for the boating industry.”
Coburn believes banks could better target those consumers with marketing campaigns.
“That would be one way to let them know they’re there for them and willing to look at their needs if they want to be a boat consumer like their granddads and grandmas have been,” Coburn said.
Income tiers of more than $150,000 made up the greatest percentage of boat-loan consumers for banks, credit unions and private finance firms; 77 percent of boat loan customers earned more than $100,00 a year, and 20 percent made more than $250,000 a year.
The number of boat loans issued to two-wage earnings households dropped to its lowest rate since 2009, to 54.8 percent. Also, less than half the people who took out boat loans last year had children at home, compared to 64.8 percent in 2015.
In 2017, the average loan size that banks collectively reported was a just over $58,000, according to Coburn. Service companies, which typically go after higher-value loans, reported average loans of $111,000.
The delinquency rate for marine loans fell from 0.84 percent in 2016 to 0.45 percent last year; the rate for all installment loans was 0.87 percent in 2016 and 0.94 percent last year.