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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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10,519 Posts
BUYING OLDER BOATS & MARKET TIMING

These are not cut and dry questions. I watch the used boat market quite closely as I am often called upon to help people find their dream boats. While some boats seem to be holding pretty level values or going up in value, others have dropped quite precipitously. While there are some trends they are not absolute and they really can''t be counted on.

For example,

The general rule is that non-competive race boats with minimal interiors have lost a lot of resale and can be bought cheaply. That would be true of boats like the Olsen 30, Old One-Tonners, Farr 37''s, J-36''s, J-27''s that sort of thing. Old race boats with decent interiors have gone up in value. So boats like the S-2 9.1, Laser 28''s, Express 37''s and J-35''s with the operable ports and cruisier interior package have actually hit a low and seem to be coming up in value.

1980''s middle of the road coastal cruising boats like Pearsons, Odays, Tartans, Sabres, C&C''s seemed to have held their value pretty well but their prices seem to be separating. As they reach 20 years of age they are taking more to keep them up. Standing and running rigging, electronics, deck hardware, sails, engines, interiors, and the like are in need of major repairs or replacement. Owners who have done these major overhauls are asking very high prices (the brokers tell me that they are not actually getting them but they are getting higher prices than anyone would have expected a few years back.) The boats without this kind of upgrades are plumeting in value as these cost of doing this work far exceeds the value of the boat sometimes. Still people see the higher asking prices and think that these boats have actually gone up in sales price for all of that model.

Similarly, 15-20 year old so-called blue water boats seemed to be holding their value for a while but I noticed that similarly the earlier models seemed to plummeted. There is noting more expensive to put together than an old blue water boat because all of its parts are so heavy duty and expensive. Where models have had minimal changes, refurbished boats can demand pretty high prices because compared to new boats they are still cheap. BUT older unrefurbished blue-water boats can be bought quite cheaply and then som poor S.O.B. has to try to put these things back together.

Boats by the Big Three seem to plummet quite quickly after they are new. Typically they sell for thier "base price" which ignores the additional 10% to 15% that covers all of the options, add, ons and spares that get added to the base price. Oddly enough, Good clean versions of these common boats can still demand 50% more than the more clapped out versions and boats like the Beneteau First series can often sell for their purchace price 12 years later.

So like I say, there are not hard and fast rules.

Jeff
 

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Super Moderator
Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
Joined
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10,519 Posts
BUYING OLDER BOATS & MARKET TIMING

"Do the seasoned sailors pay the fair prices
and new to the sport/lifestyle higher prices?"

Not necessarily. Like most things in sailing ist a matter of effort in equates to benefits out. When I am buying a boat or helping someone buy a boat, I begin by identifying as large a number of boats that could work possibly work. I rate them from ideal, to modifiable to work, to really not working at all. I begin to track these boats for years before I actually have to buy one. I keep a little data base of these boats that have come on the market and been sold. I rate them on sails, condition and equipment as best that I can. I try to get to know owners and get aboard as many of the particular boat in question so I can learn of common problems and issues. After a while I can quickly tell what a fair price would be for each model and can quickly set a fair purchase price for the specific boat in question.

I am also good at doing a pre-survvey myself that usually identifies the majority of the problems before the real survey. This helps me decide what a fair price really is and also negotiate the final price with the owner by being able to show him my database and the particular problems.

" Or is it really an issue of how much money you have?"

Its partially a matter of trading money for time and effort. Anyone can buy a boat very quickly if they don''t mind pay top dollar.To buy the right boat at the right price takes time and care. It also may mean some flexibility. For example, I bought my Laser 28 for about 20% lower than its market value on the Chesapeake where there was an active one-design fleet. On LIS there was no fleet and they had a very unfavorable PHRF rating so they were being dumped.

" People, self included for a while, often feel that Practical Sailor reviewers were unbiased and the mass press, Cruising World, Sail, etc. would not be honest because of their boat manufacturing advertisers. How
much do these reviews massage the market?"

Actually I have far less respect for the quality of the Prctical Sailor reviews than I do for the reviewers and approach to reviews in magazines like Sail, Sailing World, Cruising World, Spinsheet, or Sailing. Practical Sailor tends to have certain editorial bias''s that clearly slant their reviews to the point that I consider them worse than useless. I find that the Magazines above tend to give much better reviews if you learn to read between the lines (such as "points well for a heavy cruising boat" which translates to, does not point all that well but is OK in its class. OR "the fit and finish reflects the value pricing on this boat" which means its a cheap boat with mediocre workmanship.) I think Bob Perry''s reviews in Sailing and Jack Horner''s Classic Plastic reviews in Spinsheet are the best in terms of depth and lack of editorial policy clouding the view point. I also like Sail Magazine''s reviews but they tend to be too brief.

"Parts, insurance, etc. I recently talked to a marine loan broker about buying older boats. The eyebrows started to twitch when I
mentioned a few boats 20 years+. The repair
BB of SailNet often has messages regarding
the possible necessity to custom make parts."

Custom parts are no big deal if you are at all engineering oriented and have reasonable skills. The big issue with 20 plus year old boats is the need to replace or do major repairs and upgrades to the sails, running and standing rigging, engines, deck hardware, electronics, and interior appointments, aesthetics, deck coring and hull flex cracks, etc. Any combination of this collection can quickly exceed the overall value of one of these boats in perfect shape. You can often find a totally restored version of one of these older boats for prices that are a real bargain even if they are well above the percieved market value of the boat. Still, even though the guy who did the restoration is going to loose a lot of his investment, if you buy one of these already restored boat at top dollar, it will too will decrease in price being dragged dowwn by the dropping price of the rest of the deteriorating fleet as it ages.

" When you folks say big 3, I assume you mean
Beneteau, Catalina, and Hunter. I''ve heard
C & H criticized for cheap manufacturing
and that the used Bs are overpriced. FEW
articles on buying cruisers list any Bs or Hs on their A list. (Aside) Ironically, Beneteau marketed an Evasion model (almost a motorsailor) which bombed in the US but its layout would work quite nicely for aging boomers."

I think that Beneteaus, Hunters and Catalinas are fine for coastal cruising and in fact many of these boats are better suited to coastal cruising than many more venerable cruising boats. My family and friends have had enough experience owning these boats that I can say that as the boats age, they are pretty cheap but they also require more maintenance. Still if you buy a ''good one'' and take care of it, they are very good values.
 
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