The Health Of Classic Boating. The Community, Not The Magazine.

Sell, sell, buy, buy..

I know we always focus on how large the passion of classic boats is as a lip-miss test. But what about brokers and restorers? What about sales? Increased prices?

We reached out to a couple sponsors and business is strong. Some slammed busy and booked up, others have seen a very stable increase. And sales have been good. Our readership is about the same, and is more responsive to the quality of the story of the day. YA.. Sorry. HEY at least you brat kids are fed. Yes it may be mac and cheese every day and Roman noodle stories. But at least your fed. WOW, that hit a nerve. I need to be more careful about what I write to myself. Oh no.. Copy loop again.. Where was I? Oh, ya..

Many in the passion have sold boats that had been for sale for years. And yes the strong spot in the market is still in the mid 20’s and 30’s. $100K boats take longer to sell. But as restorers get booked up. Buying a done boat is a good option if priced right.

If you are in the market for a classic boat, this is a great time to buy one. Shop around, but make sure you have the boat checked out by an expert in classic boats. This is important. Know what you are getting, or getting into. Its an amazing passion, when you can enjoy it. Our sponsors here on Woody Boater are among the best in the passion. And can save you thousands, and heartache.

By the way, Happy Header Day. You know what to do.

17 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Lip-miss test? Is that when your spouse tries to put on her lipstick while boating after a few bottles of wine?

  2. Chug-A-Lug
    Chug-A-Lug says:

    I think its kinda like the word “bust,Ted-when ones wife catches you typing in that ones only here to see hot pics of Matts boatress.Matts one lucky dude.

  3. CenturyMike
    CenturyMike says:

    As I work on a computer all day long, when I get home and want to look at it, I check the news, football, and what’s up on Woody boater. That always makes me smile.
    Thank you for what you do!

  4. Tracy Miller
    Tracy Miller says:

    We finally turned our passion for these boats into a business. After 35 plus years the hubby was cooked working as a civil engineer. Now that he’s in boat restoration full time he has never been happier

  5. Marcel
    Marcel says:

    Broke my cherry on 17′ Barrel back Chris craft this fall from Classic boats in Minnesota….cant wait ’til the spring.

  6. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    Boat sales strong? I’ll take your word for it, but that might be open to debate, though the lower price ranges might be more active.

    I am one of the guys that sold an upper mid-range boat after it had been listed for years. It took 4 or 5 years (not sure which) and the price realized was way below initial broker estimates of value. The price had to be reduced over time until an offer was elicited. Prior to that, the boat was in hindsight obviously priced above the market, though the only way to really know that is by watching the months and years tick by with little or no interest. I was not a “motivated” seller in the traditional sense so was content to wait it out, but now I wish I had reacted to what the market was telling me more quickly.

    I have learned a bit from this process – a simple but occasionally fraught process called price discovery. We as owners can set the price, but the market sets the value. The value of my boat was $80k, not the higher numbers earlier ascribed. I wish it was higher but in the end it wasn’t; life goes on.

    Value has absolutely ZERO to do with the amount you have invested in the boat, the fact your family has owned it for 100 years, or any other factor to which you may be emotionally anchored. It is worth what a knowledgeable buyer will pay on that day, that’s it. The sooner a seller can accept this, the better the chances of a sale will be. The realization can be painful, but it’s also inevitable. Brokers and restorers have a role to play in educating sellers, I would submit.

    There are way too many boats sitting on the market for years at clearly delusional price points, points to which owners are emotionally but not rationally anchored. If these boats were priced based on actual market reality, we as a hobby would see higher transaction volumes and perceive an overall greater vibrancy in the market. Perception and sentiment are important, perhaps a contributing factor to the oft-held sentiment that the classic boat market is slow are low transaction volumes partially brought about by unrealistic asking prices in many cases? Just a thought.

    I think classic car market is in a period of retreat or retrenchment as well, after significantly disappointing sales in the summer. Who knows, maybe a demographic reckoning is happening? Price adjustments will occur in that market as well.

    If you have had a triple or a launch or any other boat for sale for years with no interest, the market is not the problem – the problem is your price – drop it or do everyone a favor and take it off the market. It’s really as simple supply and demand – evidently not a whole ton of people want big triples or launches with high prices on them, so there are an abundance of those for sale. If you really want to sell it, lower the price to the market or take it off the market and go boating.

  7. Tommyholm
    Tommyholm says:

    Good One, Paul
    let’s get all the brokers to conspire to take 50% of the supply off the market and watch the prices go up. OR we can encourage Woody to increase the demand for the high price triples, timepieces, museum quality crafts. I am all for Quality over Quantity.

    • Paul H
      Paul H says:

      Hello Tommy!

      The volume will never be at the high end, just ask McDonalds, Walmart, Timex or Rolex about that.

      There are many more current and potential classic boat hobbyists at the low to mid range of boat pricing than the high end, obviously. I would like to see prices realized (value) and inventory to adjust to a point where there is an active, liquid market for all boats – like there is for most cars. That is healthy for the hobby, not high prices.

      Brokers and to a lesser extent WB are obviously not setting market values, if they were, the over priced stuff would not be sitting there like stagnant drug on the market, it would be selling at or near the prices asked. The inventory is there but much of it is way overpriced and not selling, so removing it would not likely be impactful to realized transaction prices, anyway.

      I like to think WB is a voice in the hobby, and not simply working to elevate prices to benefit sellers and to get buyers to pay more. If anything, I hope Matt serves to positively influence transaction volume, irrespective of price. Some guys like me selling higher priced stuff lose some money on boats, but others get good boats at good prices and we move forward.

      The point is largely moot as market values have obviously already adjusted, but the asking prices of a great many boats haven’t – yet. I really wish asking prices were a leading indicator, but they are not. The health of the hobby is not contingent upon sellers getting high prices for boats, but it is partially in the development of a decent and broad market. Valuations have something to do with that.

      • Tommyholm
        Tommyholm says:

        The rarity value factor simply doesn’t exist but your asking price seems to factor it. Even in the highest end of the market , substitutes are readily available. See restorers back log. The market is self regulating with major change recently due to expanded information. It is distinctly segmented as you state. Someday equilibrium!

  8. Bilge Rat
    Bilge Rat says:

    Thank you Paul for that unvarnished (no pun intended) opinion of the sales health of our community. Demographic reckoning? Oh yeah, the young and upcoming potential buyers have little connection with these treasures of ours and even less desire to own one based on how boating in general seems like a money pit. Like a jet ski, you want your buddy to own one so you can use it on a whim, but you don’t want to own it. Most boats that I have restored I lost money on the resale and broke even on one. That of course did not include my labor, but I was not in the business of making money on them.

    • Dave Juergens
      Dave Juergens says:

      Did we restore, repair or mop and glow as an investment only to flip it to have a return on investment? Or do we buy and preserve because of a passion for these amazing works of art!
      Unfortunately, younger generations are not hands on and have no idea how to use tools or have the interest to maintain.

      What is to become of the hobby? Who will prevail?

  9. Scott K
    Scott K says:

    It will be interesting to see what the triples from the late Terry Adderly bring at Mecum in January.
    A new barometer will be set in a public setting with “mainstream” boats in apparently good condition The Jim Street auction were more unique boats that had various needs.

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      Scott – I’ll be there, watching it. But not bidding – I don’t need or really want a triple. I used to covet a big triple and came very close to buying several examples over the years, but that desire has diminished.

      I hope for a good outcome for all involved, but certainly have no insight into the market value of those boats.

  10. Dane
    Dane says:

    There is more to the current health of the hobby than transaction prices and that I think is the point of today’s story. Despite the gloomy reports of club memberships and interest in magazines, phones continue to ring and boats are being sold and restoration shops are busy with repairs and restorations from a diverse group of customers. Those seem like positive indicators.

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