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BUYING OLDER BOATS & MARKET TIMING

I have the two vol set, "Practical Boat Buying" and find it very valuable. Most of the reviews contain price graphs which show an interesting trend. Almost all older boats dropped in price until 1992, then there was a sharp increase. My inference (also has a researcher by trade) is that this corresponded to the increase in the market leading to many people''s feeling of greater wealth.

Based on my personal search for my next boat and some observations in the market, I do not think we can predict the future from the past.

I think that the majority of boat buyers will not touch 20 yo boats. Thus, someone buying an 18 yo boat will be shocked at what they have to sell it for in 3-4 yrs. Search engines on all the boat listing sites, such as Yachtworld, make it very easy to sort out the exact age of a boat you want to search for. My bet is that most boat buyers today put the cut-off at 1980 or 1982. I know I do.

And I do that because I have spent many weekends looking at 1980 or older vintage boats only to find that they are high priced and would require quite of bit more cash to put in the shape I would like. You are then left with a very expensive old boat that may perhaps have no next buyer. That is not to say that there are not truly GREAT older classics... but they are the exception... and I would be willing to venture that if people''s taste in boats changes, classics might no longer hold their value.

Case in point: a 1981 Tartan 37, centerboard. Tartan''s are very good boats and the 37 has an excellent reputation. Most on the market now are listed in the low $80''s ($20-30k more than similar sized boats of the same vintage). They were selling between 45-60k, just a few yrs ago. They are of course a very good boat ... BUT.. they have smaller interiors by todays standards and they are centerboards. I predict that these boats will plummet in value in 3 yrs because 1) they will be past the 20 yr mark, 2) their interiors will become unacceptable to many buyers and 3) fewer buyers will want centerboards. Same for the Bristol 35.5. I am not knocking the boat, just making a prediction based on this discussion.
 

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BUYING OLDER BOATS & MARKET TIMING

I think JeffH answers the important issues well, I have benefited from his advice on other boards.

I wanted to address the Catalina/Beneteau/Hunter issue, as I think it is a future driver of the market. First, I will say that, in my personal opinion, Hunter does not belong with C and B.

I am in the market for a 36-38ft sloop, 10-15 yrs old. I started my search quite some time ago with a blank slate, being open to boats 20yrs old and older. I seriously checked out boats from Bristol''s to Hunter''s, Morgan, Ericson, Tartan, Saber, Alberg and many more. I focused on a Pearson 36 and a Tartan 37.

If you read reviews of Catalina''s in Spin Sheet, Practical Sailor and read owners reviews, you will find very favorable write ups. I went out and surveyed a 1989 Catalina 36: strong chain plates attached to major structural member, good glass work, solid glass hull (which I prefer, Jeff may differ), fit and finish very good, interior bulkheads tabbed well, no voids in the glass, top notch fittings, no leaks etc etc and easy access to everything including fuel tank, holding tank, sea cocks etc They have a nice conservative 44% ballast/disp ratio, very good rep and excellent resale value. A good value, worth the money and a boat I could go virtually anywhere with in great comfort and confidence. I think the same would be true of a Bene or C&C (I personally lump C&C with C and B, but I don''t want to start any arguements over it).

I began to think about where would I take a Pearson 36 or Tartan 37 that I would not take a C 36. My personal answer was that I probably would not cross an ocean in any of the above, and that I would take a C 36 anyplace I would take the Pearson or Tartan. In my thinking, I could not justify the extra cost of a Pearson or Tartan over the Catalina for sailing up and down the coast, limited off shore and cruising to the islands. After that, my choice becomes influenced by personal things: cost, comfort of the interior and ease of maintenance.

SO, my take on all this is that the group of boats that many people will say are higher quality may not be able to demand higher prices in the future. I believe we are at the break point now, where the market is shifting towards "value" boats. Pearson''s are nice, but a 1989 Pearson 36 asks for a 20% higher price tag than a 1989 Catalina or Bene, a similar vintage Tartan even more. I am not sure they will get those prices this year, they may, but I don''t think the higher prices will last much longer.

When it comes to true "bluewater" boats, there is a different dynamic. But that is another thread.

Just my $0.02
 
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