“If I buy this boat, what will it be worth in 5 years?”
My Sales staff are constantly asked.

Written: Saturday September 09 2023

.and unfortunately, they always give the same answer…."if I knew that, I would be investing in the stock market". For once, you can trust a statement from a salesman! What they can however do is to give you and educated guess after they have considered some factors that you should always take into account that will allow them to make a more informed decision.

New Boat Margins:
The most important influencer of the value in 5 years is the starting point, namely what the Buyer paid for his boat when he purchased it new and this is where catamaran buyers get the greatest advantage. The sales margin that catamaran manufacturers pay to their dealers is significantly less than what dealers who sell monohulls or powerboats receive. Power Boats generally carry a 30-35% margin, monohulls are between 20% and 25% but catamarans are the real outsider with margins between 13% and 16%. However those margins only apply to the actual production costs so any other costs that a manufacturer passes on to a dealer come with no margin so it is generally safe to say that the dealer margin is generally around 14%. While that is not good news for the dealer, the other side of that equation means that the depreciation that a Buyer faces as soon as they take delivery of their new catamaran is instantly a lot less than a similarly priced monohull or power boat.

In a similar article I wrote a few years ago before the pandemic I wrote that the availability of new catamarans was still fairly limited, so most manufacturers had a significant waiting list for their products. This helped to keep the resale value of catamarans in the brokerage community somewhat higher than other types of yachts which were immediately available. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case and you are starting to see many dealers announce they have inventory for immediate delivery. In order to sell this inventory, they will most likely start to discount it and that will force the price of used boats down also.

New Model Prices:
Each year the price of new cats tends to increase more quickly than the equivalent monohull, so this also tends to help reduce the depreciation on brokerage catamarans. In the past few years however, we have seen the prices of new catamarans soar by over 30%, almost to the point of them no longer being affordable to the mass market. The recent price increases for 2024 have been much more modest and realistic so we should expect to see prices stabilize at worst and perhaps even decline.

New Models:
Most manufacturers tend to try to get between 5 – 7 years out of a model range before being forced to replace that particular model. IN recent years though the new models that have replaced existing have not been significantly different that owners have felt that they needed to upgrade from their older model. This has benefited resale values significantly. However, should a manufacturer decide to come out with a new radical design that the market accepts then this could have a significant impact on resale values. Many manufacturers are experimenting with solar, battery and hybrid power but there has been so breakthrough product equivalent to a Tesla in the yachting market.

The majority of the sailing cats in today’s market are produced in Europe so the US market is very susceptible to currency fluctuations. In the past 24 months we have seen the euro trade in the $1 - $1.20 range which means that some Buyers paid almost 20% less for their purchase than others. However, the currency has tended to average around the $1.10 mark so while there will be outliers on each side of the Bell curve, the average should be fairly steady.

Availability of product:
Remarkably while the new boat market has fallen dramatically, this has not happened to the brokerage market. The supply of used boats coming to market has been lower than normal and therefore prices are staying relatively stable for well-equipped, well maintained used boats. How long this will continue is open to argument but for the time being we are not seeing prices dropping like stones.

The general rule of thumb on a new boat is 15% to 20% depreciation in Year 1 with each subsequent year of around 10% until Year 7 when values tend to stabilize and fall only marginally after that. However, with catamarans and current pricing, it seems to be closer to 10% in Year 1, 7.5% in Year 2 and 5% annually after that. After Year 7 the value is usually around 50% of the original purchase price.

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