U.S. brokerage sales drop in November but values rise as superyacht deals climb

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U.S. brokerage sales were off 12 percent in November from the same month a year earlier, a sharp downturn, compared with October, when volume was only 1 percent below that of the same month in 2013.

Combined, sales were off 6 percent for the first two months of the fourth quarter, according to reports by YachtWorld member brokerages in their proprietary database, SoldBoats.com. That remained in line with sales for 2014 through November, which were off 5 percent, with 28,460 boats sold.

The total value of all sales in November was $251.1 million, up $20 million from the same month last year, primarily because of sales of higher-priced superyachts. Through November, the aggregate price paid for all boats was down 4 percent, from $3.5 billion to $3.3 billion.

Sales of smaller boats fell the most during the 11-month period — 8 percent in the under-26-foot and the 26- to 35-foot ranges. Boats 36 to 45 feet were off 1 percent, with 6,159 sold. By contrast, sales of larger yachts were higher, with 46- to 55-footers up 5 percent, on sales of 1,649 boats, and 56- to 79-footers up 6 percent, with 709 boats sold.

This month, we also looked at sales by class of boat from January through November, compared with the number of each class boat sold in 2013 during the same period. With overall sales 5 percent lower during the period in 2014, just one of the seven most-sold classes recorded a gain in its sales figures — motor- yachts — where sales increased from 1,863 to 1,997. This aligns with the positive sales figures for boats over 45 feet. At the same time, the average price paid for a motoryacht in 2014 declined 9 percent as the average price increased for most other classes.

The classes with the largest sales volume declines, all in double digits, were bowriders, sail cruisers and express cruisers. Matching the decline in sales of smaller boats, bowrider sales were lower by the most — 26 percent — which moved bowriders from the fourth-most-sold class to seventh.

At the same time, the average price paid for bowriders rose sharply — 15 percent. The other two classes that achieved double-digit percentage gains in price were center consoles and express cruisers.

The most commonly sold class in the first 11 months of both 2013 and 2014 was the power cruiser, with 3,431 and 3,281 boats sold, respectively. The No. 2 class in that period during 2013 was the express cruiser, with 2,780 sold, but with sales dropping 16 percent, to 2,344, in 2014, it was surpassed by center console sales of 2,604 boats.

This development continued a four-year trend in which the express cruiser declined in popularity. In 2011, with 3,006 purchases, it was the most commonly sold brokerage boat, but the power cruiser passed it in 2012.

John Burnham is the editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.

This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue.