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Brokerage sales make gains in April

Yacht brokerage sales in the United States continued in April at a substantially higher volume than in April 2009, with unit sales for the month up 28 percent or more in all size categories of boats 55 feet and under.

According to YachtWorld.com member broker reports in the proprietary database, SoldBoats.com, 2,927 boats changed hands - 626, or 27 percent, more than did in April 2009. However, total valuation of boats sold was up only 7 percent, from $267 million to $285 million.

The best-performing size categories were for boats 36 to 55 feet, which were up roughly 50 percent in volume and almost as much in value. In particular, 589 boats 36 to 45 feet were sold, up from 377 the year before. And the valuation of these sales increased 74 percent, from $47 million to $81 million.

In fact, between April 2009 and April 2010, unit sales and total valuation of sales were up 28 percent or more in nearly every category of boats smaller than 55 feet long. However, among boats over 55 feet, unit sales were up a relatively modest amount, from 66 to 75 boats, and the value of the sales dropped dramatically, from $127 million to $81 million. Dramatic shifts in this category because of the wide range of sizes and prices aren't unusual; March 2010 sales of $148 million were up more than $100 million from $41 million the previous March. If you average March and April sales, you may have a better indication of the recent big-boat market.

Looking at the U.S. brokerage market as a whole, we find that in April it continued to show a big improvement in unit sales over 2009, tracking just below the five-year average. The 2,927 boats sold is just below the average of 3,008 for April. And for the second month in a row, unit sales were also marginally ahead of 2008, when 2,897 boats were sold.

Indicative, perhaps, of the backlog of boats on the market, the time-to-sale of the boats sold in April continued to increase, with an average of 311 days. This is up 40 days from the average time it took to sell a brokerage boat a year ago. Year to date, the average is slightly less, at 287 days, which is 31 days more than the average in the first four months of 2009.

— John Burnham, YachtWorld.com

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