Sailboat Brokerage Market Finishes 2010 Ahead,
At the end of 2010, the U.S. market for brokerage sailboats had made gains over the previous year. According to reports by YachtWorld.com brokers in their proprietary database, SoldBoats.com, sales of 5,688 boats reflected a 5-percent increase from 2009 when 5,414 boats were sold. Total sales valuation of $415 million was 5 percent higher than 2009, meaning the average selling price stayed level.
Although the year-end outlook was positive, the last four months of the year were not; otherwise 2010 might have concluded with double-digit growth. From September through December, unit sales were lower every month compared to the same month in 2009. And on a percentage basis, total valuation of those sales was even lower.
That dynamic appears to be changing, though, as the total value of boats sold decreased almost in step with the drop in unit sales in December 2010 and January 2011. Then in February 2011, even though unit sales again fell 15 percent, compared to February 2010, total sales valuation improved markedly, gaining 15 percent. Comparing the first two months of 2011 with the first two of 2010, unit sales were down 15 percent, from 723 boats sold to 613; but the value of the boats sold, $54 million, was down only about half a million dollars from 2010.
Looking at overall 2010 sales by length, more boats between 26 feet to 55 feet changed hands than the previous year. The strongest category was 36 to 45 feet, up 8 percent to 1949 boats. The only categories to see weaker sales in 2010 were boats under 26 feet, down 2 percent with 569 boats sold, and boats over 55 feet, down 5 percent with 63 boats sold.
The percentage change in total value of the boats sold in each size range varied, with 26- to 35-footers showing the strongest gain, up 14 percent to $109 million, although unit sales were only up 5 percent. In contrast, the total value of boats sold under 26 feet and over 55 feet decreased by more than the unit-sales percentage drop in the same categories. The small boats were down 9 percent, to $6 million, and the big boats were down 25 percent, to $24 million.
Compared to the pre-recession valuation of all sailboat sales, the gains in 2010 were incremental. In most months in 2007, the value of boats sold was in the $40- to $60 million range. In the worst period of 2008 and 2009, that dropped to anywhere from $15 to $40 million per month. For 2010, most months were between $25 and $45 million. So far in 2011, that pattern has continued.
The bright spot in the market this winter has been in sales of boats 46 to 55 feet long. While unit sales are down in other size ranges, sales are up a couple percent, with 43 boats sold and total valuation up 4 percent, with $10 million in sales.
—John Burnham, Editorial Director, YachtWorld.com
Sail America has teamed up with YachtWorld.com to provide a report of sailboat brokerage sales. Each month Sail America will distribute a report of the previous month’s activity and annual trends.