What’s In Store for ’24? Exploring the Boating Market in the Post-Pandemic Era

It’s no secret that the boating world has experienced a boom in the last few years. Boating, including power and sail, have both experienced a strong resurgence, seemingly re-invigorating boating as one of our favorite family activities. At North Point, we have seen families double down on activities that bring parents and kids together, as well as friends finding new experiences cruising as groups.

If you had asked anyone in the yacht sales world entering 2023 what to expect, they probably would have said a bit of a cool down. Some yacht sales and brokerage groups did see a return to more average activity. As you go from yard to yard, you will see some new boat inventory in stock – a big change from the days of long wait times. In ’23, it is safe to say that prices of used/brokerage inventory started to reduce, though not dramatically. The biggest difference being that buyers could make offers less than asking price and didn’t have to do so the day their dream boat was listed. This led to an increase in the confidence of buyers, even though used inventory is still lower than pre-pandemic levels.

So, what about this upcoming season? Maybe it is easiest to break it down by category, because after all, at North Point we are one of the leading brokerage firms who helps clients with new boats, used boats, power and sail. And please remember, this outlook and feedback, while from a place of education and experience, may not be true of what everyone has experienced.

New Boats – Inventory is key here. With inventory on the ground (we have a few Tiara, Caymas, and Hanse), buyers can expect to see a discount line on window stickers again. Interest rates have led to increased carrying costs for dealers, so expect these discounts to be limited! The fall and winter boat shows have been very good for brands who have new offerings and quality products. With the Florida boating season in full swing, inventory down south will start to disappear, and spring is right around the corner in the Mid-Atlantic so now is a smart time to be shopping. Powerboaters should expect great new products from their favorite brands like Tiara and Caymas who have re-invested the past years success to deliver more value to you.

The sailing world is seeing a return to the drawing board, asking what todays boaters want and need. This looks very different from sailboats even as recent as 10 years ago. Brands like J Boats have seen huge success with day sailors like the J9, so expect that world to begin to look more like weekending and shorthanded sailing, things Hanse and J Boats have always been market leaders in.

When considering the right boat for you and your family, I have always said you are buying two things, a boat and a salesperson/organization. Having a good buying experience will be as much determined by the firm you are buying from as the boat itself. Gain a thorough understanding of your firm’s sales process, familiarize yourself with their service capabilities, and ensure you have a clear line of communication with their team.

Brokerage/Used – The best news here for buyers and sellers is that we are starting to see our first interest rate reductions which should invigorate spring buying. In the sailboat market, inventory tends to be the big challenge. Sailors in general do everything a bit slower, from sailing at 6kts😉  to buying and selling. Since new sailboats have increased in cost, it has made more sailboat owners hang onto their boats, unsure of where to transition to. Interest rates dropping should help spur activity as the cost of ownership tends to be a larger percentage of the buying decision in this market. Being educated and ready as a buyer will be your friend here, so you can promptly react to a good boat when it is listed.

On the powerboat front, good boats are still fetching good prices, though certainly a reduction from 18 months ago. That last sentence may seem obvious, but selling a powerboat (well, any boat really) can be a bit like threading the needle right now. Buyers looking for a “deal” have started to increase, and as a result if you don’t carefully consider the brokerage trifecta (price, condition, location) you can find your listing sitting longer than you may like. Protecting the boats value, while giving buyers the message you are realistic and trustworthy is key. It is important to remember that buyers set the market for boat values and sellers would be wise to take this into account.

The final piece to the puzzle is buying and selling partners. That little word “trust” I mentioned above is the single most important word for me in 2024. Collaborating with a brokerage firm to sell your boat requires not only trusting your broker but also having confidence that they will ensure buyers can trust your boat and the transaction process; That tends to come with honesty and transparency. Buying a boat? Working with a buying broker doesn’t cost you a penny more and you have a person in your corner you can TRUST is looking out for your best interest.

2024 is already off to a strong start. New listings are being added daily, winter boat shows are in full swing, and we at NPYS are putting the final touches on a fun season of events and activities with our friends and clients. If you’re considering a change in your boating lifestyle, this is a good year to do so. We hope to be your reliable and trusted source of guidance.

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