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Post-Sandy rebound boosts boat sales in New York

New tax laws in New York should help prompt an industry rebound after Hurricane Sandy.

New tax laws in New York should help prompt an industry rebound after Hurricane Sandy.

Stock portfolios and real estate values have been rising during the last few years and sales of recreational boats of all sizes increased by 7.3 percent in the state in 2014, bucking a national trend of sinking sales, according to a National Marine Manufacturers Association report.

A large part of the New York metro area rebound, aside from the general economic recovery, is that local boat sellers are getting a boost as storm-ravaged property owners get around to replacing some of the 65,000 boats the hurricane destroyed in 2012.

“When your home and car have been destroyed, replacement of boats is usually the last priority,” Gerrick Johnson of BMO Capital Markets told the New York Post.

As a result, area boat dealers say they’re expecting one of their best years ever.

Howard McMichael, who owns McMichael Yacht Brokers of Mamaroneck, N.Y., tells the paper he expects that his new-boat sales will go up about 20 percent this year with used craft doing even better, rising 25 percent. “There’s a very active market for boats that are in nice shape,” he says.

New York boat dealers expect a boost from the legislature’s controversial March move to cut the sales tax for luxury boat purchases by taxing only the first $230,000 of the sale.

Keith Cooper, who sells sailboats and sailboat timeshares that go for $8,000 to $15,000 at his Chelsea Piers SailTime franchise, said he is already two-thirds booked for the season and expects to fill up soon, a feat that he didn’t accomplish last year.

Cooper said he has yet to score a definite benefit from the recently enacted tax break, but he expects to be able to sell “another boat or two” before the year is out.

“It won’t necessarily turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes,’ but it will turn a ‘Yes, I want a boat’ into a ‘Hell, yes, I want a boat,’ ” he says.

“This will help large boat sales in New York,” McMichaels agreed. “Before this, it made sense just to go to Florida and buy that $4 million powerboat.”

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