By Ed Zwirn
(Originally published on June 14, 2015 in the NY Post.)
New York’s local waterways may be clogged this boating season as local yacht sales cruise higher.
Stock portfolios and real estate values have been rising over the past few years, and sales of recreational boats of all sizes increased 7.3 percent in New York state in 2014, bucking a national trend of sinking sales, according to a National Marine Manufacturers Association report.
After years of floundering US sales as a result of the economic maelstrom that was 2007 to 2010, in which the industry saw a peak to trough decline of 60 percent decline nationwide for recreational boat sales, says Gerrick Johnson of BMO Capital Markets. Johnson adds that last year saw a rise of 8 percent in sales nationally.
A large part of the NY metro-area rebound, aside from the general economic recovery, is that local boat sellers are getting a boost as storm-ravaged property owners get around to replacing some of the 65,000 or so boats destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
“When your home and car have been destroyed, replacement of boats is usually the last priority,” Johnson explains.
As a result, area boat dealers say they’re currently expecting one of their best years ever. Howard McMichael, who owns McMichael Yacht Brokers of Mamaroneck, NY, says he expects his new boat sales to go up about 20 percent this year, with used (or “brokered”) craft doing even better, rising 25 percent.
“There’s a very active market for boats that are in nice shape,” he says.
New York boat dealers also say they expect wind in their sales due to the state legislature’s controversial March move to cut sales tax for luxury boat purchases by taxing only the first $230,000 of the sale.
Keith Cooper (pictured), who sells sailboats and sailboat timeshares (which go for $8,000 to $15,000) at his Chelsea Piers SailTime franchise, says he is already two-thirds booked for the season and expects to fill up soon, a feat that he didn’t accomplish last year.
Cooper says he has yet to score a definite benefit from the recently enacted tax break, but he expects to be able to sell “another boat or two” before the year is out.
“It won’t necessarily turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes,’ but it will turn a ‘yes, I want a boat’ into a ‘hell, yes, I want a boat,’ ” he says.
“This will help large boat sales in New York,” agrees McMichaels. “Before this, it made sense just to go to Florida and buy that $4 million powerboat.”