Are you considering buying or selling a boat in 2023? This article will explore the market for boats in 2023, the boat prices, trends, factors affecting prices, and the best time to buy or sell a boat. Whether you’re thinking of buying or selling, take the time to understand what’s happening in the marketplace.
Table of Contents
Background to Today’s Boat Market – the CoViD Years
The boating industry has witnessed significant changes in supply and demand over the past couple of years due to the CoViD pandemic. With the onset of the pandemic, many boat manufacturers faced disruptions in their production and supply chains, resulting in limited availability of new boats. This scarcity drove up prices and created a seller’s market with high demand and a low inventory of new vessels.
A Need to Spend Leisure Time in a Safer Environment
With travel restrictions and social distancing measures in place, many individuals turned to boating as a way to safely enjoy outdoor activities and leisure time, seeking local and regional boating experiences.
Smaller, more versatile boats suitable for day trips or weekend getaways became increasingly popular.
The Desire for More Space and a Change of Scene
The pandemic also brought about a desire for more space and a change of scenery, having been cooped up at home for weeks on end. Many people reevaluated their living situations and realised the benefits of living on the water, away from crowded urban areas. Liveaboard vessels provide an opportunity to have a cozy and self-contained living space while enjoying the tranquility of the water.
A Shift in Remote Working
The shift in people’s ability to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic affected the demand for liveaboard vessels. With remote work becoming more prevalent, many individuals have sought alternative lifestyles that offer more flexibility and the ability to work from anywhere, anywhere in the world in fact! This shift in work dynamics sparked increased interest in boats designed for full-time living.
The ability to work remotely opened up opportunities for individuals to live on a boat while maintaining their professional commitments. This led to a surge in demand for liveaboard vessels.
The YouTube Effect
During the pandemic, there was a significant increase in the popularity of YouTube sailing channels. Many turned to online platforms for entertainment and inspiration as people spent more time at home. YouTube sailing channels such as Brian Paulson with SVDelos, featuring individuals or families documenting their liveaboard experiences, gained a substantial following. Viewers were captivated by the unique lifestyle, breathtaking scenery, and sense of freedom.
The impact of binge-watching YouTube sailing channels on the demand for liveaboard boats can be observed in several ways. First, the exposure to these channels sparked growing interest and curiosity among viewers about the possibility of living on a boat and embarking on their own sailing adventures. The videos provided inspiration and education to those who might not otherwise have considered it, providing insights into the liveaboard lifestyle, sailing techniques, and the joys of exploring different coastal areas.
The popularity of YouTube sailing channels also created a sense of community and connection among viewers. Comment sections and social media platforms associated with these channels became spaces for like-minded individuals to share their aspirations, seek advice, and engage in discussions. This sense of community further fueled the interest in liveaboard boats, as people found support and encouragement from others who shared their passion for the liveaboard lifestyle.
As a result, the increased viewership of YouTube sailing channels contributed to a surge in demand for liveaboard boats. Many individuals who were drawn to the idea of living on the water and experiencing the freedom of sailing were motivated to pursue their dreams. They saw the potential for a fulfilling and adventurous lifestyle showcased in these videos, leading to an increased desire to own their liveaboard vessel and embark on their own sailing journeys.
These effects can be seen clearly in the trend for searching “Boat for Sale” on Google over the past few years:
The CoViD Effect on Used Boat Prices
This surge in demand for both small day boats and larger liveaboard vessels, and the constricted production of new boats, led to a shortage in the pre-owned market, and as a result, prices for used boats escalated. If you were a boat seller, this presented a favourable environment to achieve a higher price for your vessel. However, as a buyer, you needed to be patient and willing to invest time to find the right used boat at a reasonable price, as the selection was limited and competition among buyers fierce.
Boats Group carried our a comprehensive market analysis for 2022:
Factors Affecting the Market in 2023
Ongoing Impact of the Pandemic on New and Used Boat Supply and Demand
We continue to see the impact of CoViD going into 2023; the pandemic motivated many people to change their lifestyle, and while some were able to make a quick and radical change due to their financial or personal circumstances, for others, it became part of a five or ten-year plan. Some of those that made the change to a liveaboard lifestyle in 2020 are coming to the end of their liveaboard goals, returning to a less nomadic lifestyle and putting their kids back into the school system.
And with people back to a more normal working routine and less time to spend outdoors, pandemic purchases spend more time in the boatshed or on the dock. This results in an increase in new listings to the boat market in 2023.
The state of catch-up experienced in many boat building yards in 2021-2 as they ramped up again post CoViD to fulfill orders for new boats placed before the lockdowns have eased, and manufacturing schedules are normalising.
The Supply vs. Demand Gap
The supply versus demand gap in the boat market depends on various factors, including the type of boat, geographical location, and prevailing market conditions. It’s important to note that the boat market’s supply and demand dynamics fluctuate and differ between new and used boats.
Although the demand-supply gap for new and used boats is felt to have been at its greatest in mid-2021, the volume of boat registrations in the USA remains strong compared with pre-pandemic levels.
With many primary boat shows reprising their activity for the first time in three years in 2023, boat builders have reported high order levels for new boats placed at Boat Shows in Europe and the USA in 2023 so far, and the Global Order Book for superyacht builds is at a higher level than any pre-CoViD year.
Brokers for second-hand vessels, however, are reporting that sales in the first quarter of 2023 are significantly down compared with the same period in 2022. Inventory levels are twice as high as the previous year, boats are staying on the market longer, and more price reductions are being made to make the sale.
Innovations in Design and Technology
In recent years, there have been notable design and energy innovation trends in new boats as the industry strives to incorporate more sustainable and efficient technologies. These trends are driven by a combination of environmental concerns, evolving consumer preferences, and advancements in technology. Key areas of focus include:
- Sustainable Materials
Boat manufacturers are increasingly exploring the use of sustainable materials in boat construction. This includes incorporating recycled and eco-friendly materials, such as recycled plastics, reclaimed wood, and bio-based composites. The goal is to reduce the environmental impact of boat production and improve the overall sustainability of vessels.
- Electric and Hybrid Propulsion
Energy innovation in the boating industry has seen a rise in electric and hybrid propulsion systems. Electric boats powered by lithium batteries have gained popularity due to their zero-emission operation, quietness, and ease of maintenance. Hybrid systems combine electric motors with traditional combustion engines to recharge the batteries, offering increased efficiency and reduced fuel consumption.
- Efficient Hull Designs
Boat designers continue to focus on creating hull designs that optimise fuel efficiency and performance. This involves features such as hydrodynamic shapes, improved weight distribution, and reduced drag. By minimising resistance in the water, boats can achieve higher speeds and lower fuel consumption.
- Solar Power Integration
Solar panels are being integrated into boat designs to harness renewable energy and reduce reliance on conventional power sources. Solar panels can help power onboard systems, such as lighting, electronics, and battery charging, thereby extending battery life and reducing the need for fuel or shore power.
- Smart and Connected Features
New boats increasingly incorporate features that enhance the boating experience using data and connectivity. This includes advanced navigation systems, digital displays, remote monitoring capabilities, and connectivity options for seamless integration with mobile devices.
These innovations offer boat owners a range of benefits, including:
- Near silent cruising
- The ability to live on board for more extended periods “off-grid”
- Reduced operating costs
- Zero emissions at low boat speeds
- Responsible boating in sensitive areas
It’s interesting to see that many of the CoViD liveaboards were quick to install large lithium-ion battery banks and solar charging as soon as possible on their new vessels, ripping out propane gas systems and installing induction cooktops and household refrigerators. Boats coming to the second-hand market without these home-from-home features are disadvantaged.
Consumer Confidence, Inflation, and Affordable Boating
Despite the slowdown in boat sales, industry analysts continue to mark the rise in participants in the boating industry, indicating that interest in water-based leisure time activities remains high. However, with higher interest rates from the post-pandemic economic downturn, consumers find it tougher to agree on financing deals on new and used boats. They are turning instead to boat rental and other options.
Social media platforms have facilitated the rise of peer-to-peer sharing networks specific to boating. Platforms such as Boatsetter and GetMyBoat allow boat owners to rent their vessels to individuals looking for a boating experience.
Boat clubs and groups on platforms like Facebook and Instagram have provided a platform for individuals to organize shared outings, where the costs are divided among participants. Websites such as Crewseekers facilitate matching between boat owners and prospective crew.
These sharing economy models enable boating enthusiasts to access boats without the need for ownership, reducing the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining a boat. As these peer-to-peer platforms gain popularity, the demand for buying a new or second-hand vessel decreases.
Oil Price Fluctuations
Oil is a crucial component in the production of boats, particularly in manufacturing fiberglass hulls, resins, and other petroleum-based materials. Fluctuations in oil prices impact the cost of raw materials, transportation, and energy used in the manufacturing process. When oil prices rise, the manufacturing costs for boats increase, which is reflected in higher prices for new boats.
Oil prices directly affect the cost of fuel, which is a significant operational expense for boat owners. Higher fuel costs influence the affordability and operating costs of boats, which may indirectly impact boat demand as owners consider the long-term expenses associated with boat ownership.
Disruptions to the Supply Chain
High fuel prices and global container transportation issues linked to the war in Ukraine continue to influence the market and such disruptions can have a significant impact on boat prices. When disruptions occur, such as delays or shortages in raw materials and components, it leads to increased production costs and limited availability. Manufacturers may pass on these increased costs to consumers, resulting in higher boat prices. Additionally, delays in delivery and market uncertainty can further affect pricing dynamics. Buyers may become more cautious, reducing demand and potentially putting downward pressure on prices.
Rising Personnel Costs
It seems like the number of vacancies in the boating industry increases every week, and a walk along the boulevards of Fort Lauderdale reveals a sea of announcements staked along the sidewalks. A deficit of trained and experienced workers continues to drive up marine industry personnel costs, which are passed down to both new and used boat prices.
New Boat Prices in 2023
Faced with continuing recruitment issues, high fuel and materials prices, and ongoing disruptions in the supply chain stemming from the pandemic and the subsequent war in Ukraine, boat manufacturers remain at lower capacity than pre-CoViD times. Demand is high, in comparison, as customers have waited to place orders due to the uncertainties of CoViD, and the waiting lists for new build vessels can be as much as three years.
Buyers should expect the prices for a new boat to remain as they are for now. Keen parties should put their name down with their local brand dealer to hear of boats that leave the production line where the buyer has dropped out.
Used Boat Prices in 2023
The bubble for used boat prices seen in 2020-21 has well and truly burst! Brokers and dealers indicate a significant increase in inventory, a longer time to sell, and the need for more and greater discounting to achieve a sale.
With the end of CoViD restrictions and a return to a more normal way of living, there is less incentive to make drastic lifestyle changes. Pandemic purchases come back on the market as people return to their pre-CoViD habits. Consumer confidence remains uncertain as oil prices and interest rates have climbed, and the upturn in more affordable boating options will ultimately impact the demand for boat ownership.
Used boat sellers in 2023 should be aware of the increasingly competitive market and the increased interest in eco-friendly design features and energy efficiency; be prepared to lower your price expectations; things are quite different from where they were in 2021 or even 2022!
Buyers should be patient and take time to explore options as prices for used boats continue to become more negotiable and the choice of vessels much more extensive than in recent years.
Where to Find Boat Prices Online
There are several online platforms where you can check boat prices specific to the model you’re interested in. Here are a few popular websites that provide resources for checking boat prices:
Boat Trader is a comprehensive online marketplace for buying and selling boats. It offers a wide range of listings and allows you to filter by boat type, location, price range, and other criteria to find boats that match your preferences. Boat Trader provides pricing information for both new and used boats, allowing you to compare prices and explore different options.
YachtWorld is a leading platform for new and used boat sales, specializing in larger vessels and luxury yachts. It offers a vast selection of listings from brokers and dealers worldwide. YachtWorld provides detailed information about each boat, including specifications, pricing, and contact details for sellers or brokers.
NADAguides (JD Power) is a trusted online resource for pricing information across various industries, including boats. It offers comprehensive boat pricing data based on year, make, model, condition, and optional features. NADAguides provides both retail and wholesale pricing, allowing you to get a sense of the market value for different boats.
BUCValu is a widely used platform for appraisals and pricing information for boats. It offers a comprehensive database of boat values based on different factors such as year, make, model, and condition. BUCValu provides detailed reports with estimated values, market trends, and historical data to help you assess boat prices accurately.
Remember that while these websites can provide valuable insights into boat prices, prices can vary depending on various factors such as location, condition, equipment, and the market demand explored here.
Best Time to Buy and Sell a Boat in 2023
Ideal selling period (February to June)
If you want to sell your boat, February and June are generally considered the best time. Many potential buyers are looking for boats to enjoy the upcoming boating season. The warmer weather and longer days create a sense of excitement and anticipation, leading to increased demand. By listing your boat for sale during this period, you can attract more potential buyers and fetch a higher price.
Favourable buying period (September to October)
On the other hand, if you are in the market to buy a boat, September to October is a favorable time. As the boating season comes to an end, sellers may be more motivated to close deals before winter arrives. This can create opportunities for buyers to negotiate better prices or find boats that have been on the market for a while. Additionally, boat dealerships and manufacturers often offer end-of-season discounts and promotions, making it an ideal time to purchase.
In 2023, new boat prices are unlikely to decrease significantly due to the ongoing market dynamics. However, you can expect those for used boats to drop. Staying informed about the boat market, factors influencing prices, and the ideal buying and selling periods allows you to make confident decisions that align with your budget and preferences. To explore the current boat prices and listings, visit our website and embark on your boating journey today.
Is 2023 a good year to buy a boat?
If you are considering buying a boat, 2023 is a year worth considering. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the boat market has shown resilience and continues to thrive. The demand for boats remains high, and while prices may be lower than in previous years, there are still opportunities to find a boat that suits your needs and budget. It’s essential to carefully research and compare prices and consider factors such as boat condition, model, and features.
Are new boats more expensive than used boats?
In general, new boats tend to be more expensive than used boats. This is because new boats come with the latest technologies, features, and warranties, contributing to higher price tags. Additionally, the demand for new boats often exceeds the supply, which can drive up their prices. On the other hand, used boats offer a more cost-effective option for buyers. They have already experienced some depreciation, making them more affordable. However, when purchasing a used boat, it’s important to consider factors such as the boat’s condition, maintenance history, and any necessary repairs or upgrades.