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Old 11-08-2020, 07:46   #1
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Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

Do premium brand sailboats really hold their value better than production boats? Iíve never seen a scientifically valid study, and wonít provide one here. But from some research and personal experience I have to at least raise the question.

In 1995 I was in the market for a new boat. The Catalina 42, Taswell 43, Tartan 3500 and Pacific Seacraft 34 were the short list. The Taswell was too expensive and was dropped. The remaining three all were approximately $135k (as I remember). I went for volume. Looking at Yachtworld at those boats from 1993-1997 there are 15 Catalina 42 with an average asking price of $109k. Two Pacific Seacraft 34 have an average of $95k and the Tartan $83k. From that small sample you could certainly question whether the premium boats held their value better than the Catalina. Yeh, I know, a tiny personal sample. I get it. You are right.

I do know that a new Amel 50, cruise equipped, will set you back about $1.3 million whereas a comparably length Beneteau $650k. I donít know a sailor on the planet that would pick the Beneteau over the Amel in terms of quality, but as far more Beneteaus are sold I will assume price is the driving factor. Looking back to the same timeframe as above the 50-54 foot Amel has 8 boats listed with an average asking price of $242k whereas the same size Beneteau is $133k Ė in the ballpark of half the price of an Amel. The Beneteau held its relative value quite nicely and in terms of dollar depreciation did much better if a new Amel back then was as relatively expensive as they are today.

A couple of outliers. The Hallberg Rassy 50 to 54 foot boats are asking $362k on average. I donít know the relative price differential between the Amel and HR when new, but the HR looks awfully good to me as they are 50% more expensive now. The other is the Island Packet 35 with an average price of $116k. I donít know what its price was relative to the boats discussed above but that looks good.

There are lots of factors that determine the value of a boat over time. Is the company still around? Is the model ďtimelessĒ? How well has the boat been maintained? When and where is the boat sold?

So what does this prove? Nothing really. While there are a few people who have made money owning a boat, for the vast majority of us it is a labor of love, limited often by our pocket book. We understand we will buy high and sell low and pump thousands of dollars in between. I would raise the question, however, that the often touted statement that premium boats hold their value better may often not be true.
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Old 11-08-2020, 09:19   #2
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Re: Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

Are final sale prices actually registered anywhere (like real estate)? People can ask whatever they want for their "premium" boats on the used market but what they end up accepting for them is where the proof lies.


When we were looking, we saw some used "premium" boats (with toys included) being advertised for nearly what the new models (presumably without all the toys included) were being advertised for. Thing is, they were still for sale the last time we checked so...
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Old 11-08-2020, 09:26   #3
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pirate Re: Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

No.. Like any other boat they will only ever be worth what the second buyer is prepared to pay...
The minute after the bill of sale has been signed and sealed its lost 25%.. this fact will be disputed by owners of 'Premium' boats.
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Old 11-08-2020, 09:43   #4
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Re: Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

A few observations of mine, and only my opinion.
1. All boats depreciate, none “hold their value”
2. The newer a boat is, the faster they depreciate
3. Most people buy boats now just like they do houses, big, and flashy trump build quality, there is no concern of how well something will hold up, they are looking for the biggest and flashiest thing they can qualify to finance on average. So big, flashy and poorly built sells, because it’s the most boat for the money.
4. In my opinion it’s foolish to buy a new boat, they depreciate so fast in the first few years.
5. Almost all boats are “production” boats, only one off custom boats aren’t, and in truth even most of those are with only the interior layouts and types of wood, fixtures etc being the biggest difference that differentiate them from their sister ships.

I initially bought a two year old “production” boat as I wanted a starter boat to see if we would like sailing, from all appearances it was immaculate, with many upgrades etc. I was paying more for the boat than it sold for new as it was actually a fully equipped turn key boat that had been exceptionally well maintained.
It failed survey for structural problems and a wet deck, so of course I didn’t go through with the sale.
We ended up buying an old larger well built boat for less money and due to I assume the difference in initial build quality it’s served us well over the last 6 years and has had no structural problems etc.
I bought it for X, put 3/4 X into it in a refit, and won’t likely get X out of it when we sell.

So buy a “better” boat if that is what you want and it will make you happy owning it, but when you go sell, most likely your going to lose your butt doing so, it’s just they way boats are.
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Old 11-08-2020, 10:00   #5
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Re: Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

In my experience better recognized brands sell more quickly and for a higher percentage of listing price. This is generally true of other boats that are well maintained as well. The listing price may not tell the whole story, not at all.
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Old 12-08-2020, 17:29   #6
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Re: Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

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Originally Posted by thinwater View Post
In my experience better recognized brands sell more quickly and for a higher percentage of listing price. This is generally true of other boats that are well maintained as well. The listing price may not tell the whole story, not at all.
Yes agree with this & the other posts.
You can't escape the fact that a boat is a hole in the ocean in which you throw money but hey it can be some of the best value money you ever spent in the experiences a boat can provide.
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Old 12-08-2020, 18:36   #7
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Re: Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

Initial build quality and up keep are what matters most. As stated above all boats lose value as they age. Think of the monetary loss as the rental cost over the time you owned it.

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Old 12-08-2020, 19:22   #8
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Re: Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

I have been looking at Amels, I would debate sailing one for a month over from Europe.
I would not even debate doing that for a beneteau
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Old 12-08-2020, 19:59   #9
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Re: Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

Boat prices are all over the place. Many high production boats that were used for charter tend to lose their value quicker, they are usually poorly equipped for long term cruising so they are money sponges to begin with. You know cheap is cheap so unless it's just a real short term boat your always better to buy better quality, my Dad used to tell me...if you buy quality you only cry once!
Better built higher priced boats that have a good following tend to hold their values if maintained and upgraded but you don't get a dime back for anything you maintained or upgraded.
Certain designs are popular and they usually hold most of their purchase price.
In the end all boats are a money pit and you had better be able to justify the costs by the fun factor involved.
My wife reminds me that we have 2 boats, the one we are sailing and the other one we are buying piece by piece, part by part. She's got a point.
And finally remember cruising is like taking a great lady for dinner, or taking a holiday to an exotic location or buying a motorcycle..whatever..much of the money we spend is for pure enjoyment and it's a complete write off and makes zero financial sense but we do it because we enjoy the experience so much...life and living is much more than getting our money back on something we love..
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Old 13-08-2020, 03:51   #10
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Re: Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

If you look carefully at the designs in your area that are sailed by boat builders and sailmakers (and also the winners in the offshore and round the cans races as some older racers can make good cruisers), and then go to the brokers, it may save time.

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Old 13-08-2020, 04:50   #11
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Re: Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

I’d like to add that those are ALL production boats, even if some are more expensive.

Non-production boats are custom boats and due to the relatively uninformed boat buying public, they value a brand above the actual boat. So production boats (every boat listed)do hold their value better, despite often being inferior to custom.
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Old 13-08-2020, 06:06   #12
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Re: Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

Simple - there is a difference between price and value. So-called production boats are bought/sold based on price. So-called high end or custom boats generally are valued more because their buyers covet quality over price. It’s all about value. How much either depreciates is too subjective to judge - but lots try...
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Old 13-08-2020, 06:09   #13
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Re: Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

Premium boats are like premium cars, they lose a lot of money. Losing 50% of value on a $2M boat is a lot more lost money that 50% on a $600k boat.

I have always been shocked at the low prices of a used Amel.

I recently got a 2005 used car. The price of a car that was $50k in 2005 was the same as one that was $15k.
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Old 13-08-2020, 06:13   #14
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Re: Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

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Originally Posted by Zzmeyer View Post
Do premium brand sailboats really hold their value better than production boats?...I would raise the question, however, that the often touted statement that premium boats hold their value better may often not be true.
My experience is with European predominantly British makes and I would say it depends on whether you're talking percentages or cash in the wallet.
If you're looking to buy a Swan-Oyster-Halberg-Island Packet-Rustler, you will certainly have to pay substantially more than for a Bavaria-Bennetau-Jeanneau of similar size/age/condition, but as a percentage of the cost of each's new-today price or price-when/new, then I suspect that the 'premium' boats will have lost less; that said 25% of $250,000 is a much bigger chunk of change to have depreciated than 30-35% or even 40% of a $150,000 original purchase price.

Where I think vendors do get over-optimistic, is when they're trying to sell older name-brand/quality boats such as Nicholsons-Rivals-Contessas and the like, who're adamant that due to their boat's superior original build-quality and more especially it's having been designed first and foremost to afford offshore/blue-water credentials, then it's worth a 'premium' on the equivalent and usually somewhat newer factory-produced equivalents. The reality is that only a very small proportion (certainly <10% and probably <5%) are interested in a boat's ability to beat to windward in a F5/6 for hours or even days on end, or heave-too in relative comfort when those winds/seas climb to F8/9, with good storage space, deep bilges and plenty of handholds. What's important to the overwhelming majority of boat buyers is that the boat's light/airy/spacious and manoeuvres easily under engine out of/in to a secure marina berth at the beginning/end of a short, fair weather day-sail and the Ben-Jen-Bav will do that better every time.
Having put in an apparently "desultory" offer for our last boat, the vendor - by way of his broker - enquired if we were aware of "just how few well maintained, ocean-capable boats were available for sale in Greece?" In response, we confirmed that whilst we did, we also knew of a somewhat rarer beast to be found in the eastern Med; buyers for such boats; the broker at least knew where we were coming from and our offer was accepted less than a week later .
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Old 13-08-2020, 07:12   #15
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Re: Do premium boats hold their value better than production boats?

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Originally Posted by bobnlesley View Post

Where I think vendors do get over-optimistic, is when they're trying to sell older name-brand/quality boats such as Nicholsons-Rivals-Contessas and the like, who're adamant that due to their boat's superior original build-quality and more especially it's having been designed first and foremost to afford offshore/blue-water credentials, then it's worth a 'premium' on the equivalent and usually somewhat newer factory-produced equivalents. The reality is that only a very small proportion (certainly <10% and probably <5%) are interested in a boat's ability to beat to windward in a F5/6 for hours or even days on end, or heave-too in relative comfort when those winds/seas climb to F8/9, with good storage space, deep bilges and plenty of handholds. What's important to the overwhelming majority of boat buyers is that the boat's light/airy/spacious and manoeuvres easily under engine out of/in to a secure marina berth at the beginning/end of a short, fair weather day-sail and the Ben-Jen-Bav will do that better every time.
Having put in an apparently "desultory" offer for our last boat, the vendor - by way of his broker - enquired if we were aware of "just how few well maintained, ocean-capable boats were available for sale in Greece?" In response, we confirmed that whilst we did, we also knew of a somewhat rarer beast to be found in the eastern Med; buyers for such boats; the broker at least knew where we were coming from and our offer was accepted less than a week later .
Yes, bobnlesley, above, hit the nail on the head. But I would add to that an international factor as well. Premium, high quality built boats may not and often are not recognized as such outside of their national borders either by buyers or, sometimes even by the sellers. All brands have been hyped so much over the years, that terms like " high quality" really have little meaning anymore. Most buyers just assume it's hype. The only way to really tell is to go thru the boat and check the quality of construction yourself, something that very few buyers have the skill and knowledge to do these days.

Still, I would say, that high quality built boats do have one singular advantage. While probably losing as much value or perhaps even more than their less well built competitors over the short term, if well maintained in the long term, their value will stabilize and not fall further or even perhaps rise as these boats take on legendary status. Many boats on the market that are coming on to 40 or 50 years of age can still fetch surprisingly high prices for their age. A Hinckley Bermuda 40 is but one example. Our own boat, the Shannon 28 cutter of which there were only a small number built is also to some extent in that category, especially the ones that have be refurbished by Shannon. In contrast, few mass production Benys Jens and Bavs will hold up as well.

I would not be surprised if, in another 20 years or so, we are going to be looking at high quality premium boats from the 70's and 80's as collector's items. Have you noticed how prices of the humble Cape Dory Typhoon seem to be gradually rising over the years? Hang on to that classic plastic boys.
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