Survey: Why owners are selling their boats

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MIAMI, Fla. — Even with surging prices at the pump and inflation rates hitting a 40-year high, private boat sellers are optimistic about the overall boat market and plan to increase their spending in the recreational boating industry. In a new survey conducted by Boat Trader, America’s largest boating marketplace, 39% of sellers on its For Sale By Owner (FSBO) platform reported that they are listing with the intention of a vessel upgrade and 18% stated they expect to sell their boat for a considerable amount.

The turbulent economy has most Americans (82%) worried about rising inflation worsening over the next 12 months, according to a recent study by Allianz Life. Boat dealers have also voiced concern about the current economic environment, the significant increase in vessel prices and how those factors will affect sales, as noted in a Pulse Report survey conducted by Baird Research.

However, Boat Trader’s private seller survey results convey boaters are not necessarily leaving their on-the-water lifestyle and are less unsettled by a looming recession. Only one in 25 respondents (4%) said economic uncertainty was a reason for selling their vessel, while a mere 3% are selling due to high gas prices.

“As we look towards the future and overall health of the boating industry, the number of boat owners expressing their desire to upgrade is a sign that we are successfully retaining boaters after the 2020 surge,” said Courtney Chalmers, Vice President of Marketing, Boat Trader. “Private sellers are very much aware of the current boat market conditions and it’s exciting to see their commitment to a lifestyle on the water has sustained.”

Boat values soared to a record high during the pandemic, with the average global boat value 29% higher than pre-pandemic levels. Despite the higher-than-expected price tag during the boating boom, only 3% of survey respondents reported selling because they could not afford their boat. Of the more than 3,500 private sellers surveyed, 5% said they plan to downsize.

Unexpected lifestyle and health changes were also reasons for sellers to offload their vessels. Respondents also reported relocating or moving factored into their decision to sell.

Boat Trader’s survey also found that among the 434 boat brands listed by private sellers, Bayliner, Boston Whaler, Chaparral, Sea Ray and Yamaha were the most popular, and nearly half of the boats listed were models newer than 10 years. The top five states with the most boats listed for sale by a private seller were California, Florida, Michigan, New York and Texas.

“The pandemic-driven rush to boating pushed the industry to focus on retention,” said Chalmers. “Based on our survey findings and marketplace data, high prices and inventory shortage haven’t deterred boat buyers. More private sellers are also listing their boats for sale as inventory levels begin to normalize, with listings up by 65 percent during the summer boating season compared to last year. We’re heading in the right direction, which is a positive sign for the long-term health of the boating industry.”

— Boat Trader

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