Brokerage sales dip in January

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After eight months of year-over-year improvement, the U.S. yacht brokerage market started 2014 with 5 percent fewer boat sales in January than it had in the same month last year.

There were 1,635 boats that changed hands during the month, down from 1,728 a year earlier, according to YachtWorld member brokerages reporting in SoldBoats.com, their proprietary database. The total was still higher than the five-year average for the month of 1,559.

The aggregate price paid for boats in January increased by 2 percent to $242.7 million compared with the same month the previous year. Sales of larger boats generally held up well during the month, even as sales of smaller powerboats and sailboats declined.

Powerboat sales as a whole were lower by 6 percent for the month at 1,284, yet the value of the boats sold rose 27 percent to $212 million.

In contrast, the number of sailboats sold declined just 1 percent to 351, yet the total price paid for them dropped 56 percent to $30.5 million. This extraordinary statistic can be traced to the benchmark in January 2012, when five vessels 80 feet and longer were sold for $43 million; in January 2013, no sailboats of that length changed hands.

Most of the downturn for the month was attributable to lower sales volume for boats under 26 feet and, to a lesser extent, boats 26 to 35 feet. Under 26 feet, boat sales were 21 percent lower with 453 sold and among boats 26 to 35 feet, sales were down 4 percent to 580. The value of the boats sold in these size ranges declined by lesser percentages, so the average price for each size boat increased incrementally during the period.

Among powerboat sales, the strongest growth was in boats 46 feet and higher, especially 46 to 55 feet, where sales were 34 percent higher. The total value of sales increased at a slower rate among boats 46 to 79 feet, indicating lower average prices, but over 80 feet, more expensive boats sold well with volume up 17 percent and the total price paid up 112 percent.

Among sailboats, the story was different, with level or higher sales and generally higher average prices among boats 36 to 79 feet and no sales above 80 feet.

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

John Burnham is the editorial director of YachtWorld.com.

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