Brokerage sales end 2013 on a high note

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U.S. yacht brokers sold 1,528 boats in December, completing a strong fourth quarter and an eighth straight month of improving sales compared with the same month in 2012.

Sales were up 3 percent for December, 8 percent for the quarter and 6 percent for the year, according to YachtWorld member brokerages reporting in SoldBoats.com, their proprietary database. There were 31,451 sales in 2013, up from 29,730 the previous year.

The total value of boats sold in December was $447.2 million, an unusually high figure that was $99 million above December 2012 and the third-highest monthly total in 2013. Superyacht sales accounted for about three-quarters of the gain with $264.7 million paid for boats over 80 feet, but the market segments between 26 and 45 feet, which are much less volatile pricewise, accounted for most of the rest of the gain, a positive sign of rising average prices through the high-volume portion of the market.

The aggregate price paid for boats sold in 2013 was $3.94 billion, almost $700 million more than the previous year.

Sales of the smallest boats actually slowed in December, compared with the same month last year, especially among powerboats, with brokers selling 1 percent fewer boats under 25 feet and 2 percent fewer boats between 26 and 35 feet.

More than offsetting those incremental declines, however, were sales of boats above 35 feet. Boats 36 to 45 feet were up 8 percent with 370 sold. Sales of boats 46 to 55 feet rose 12 percent with 118 sold. And among boats 56 to 79 feet, sales climbed 25 percent, with 60 changing hands.

For the year, sales of boats of all lengths below 55 feet increased by similar amounts on a percentage basis — between 5 and 7 percent. The strongest segment was boats between 36 and 45 feet, with 6,606 sold, up from 6,170 a year earlier.

The total price paid for all boats under 55 feet improved, compared with 2012, at a greater rate than the number of sales in each length segment, proof that average prices paid rose during the year. For example, in the 36- to 45-foot category, the total value increased 9 percent, from $788.8 million to $859.5 million, and the average price paid rose from $128,000 to $130,000.

A detailed report summarizing recent U.S. brokerage sales will appear in the February issue of Soundings Trade Only.

John Burnham is the editorial director of YachtWorld.com.

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