The 50th anniversary of the 2009 Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show delivered much better yacht sales and traffic numbers than last year according to various boat manufacturers and sales reps hawking their various luxury wares to a global crowd this past weekend.
It also turns out that wealthy consumers are not only buying more luxury yachts, they are now buying luxury homes again in South Florida as well.
The boat show is one of the largest luxury boat shows in the U.S. each year with over 600 vessels from 25 to 214 feet in length docked along a mile-long intercoastal front pier that displayed over $3 billion worth of luxury yachts currently for sale.
Tampa, Florida based Lazzara Yachts which build custom yachts in the $4M price range already had more sales orders midway through the boat show than all of last year's show. Company VP of sales Tony Lazzara stated, "We are very pleased with this year's show. We have seen a dramatic increase in customer traffic, both coming to us and calling us, a huge difference since 2008."
Joe Schwab, VP of Sales for Viking Yachts echoed those sentiments by saying, "We believe we are off the bottom now and we are seeing pricing power of luxury yacht sales stabilized due to the fact that many have dramatically reduced their inventories to reduce over supply exposure in 2009 and into 2010." Viking Yachts sells luxury sport and fishing vessels from 42 to 82 feet in length and priced from $1 million to $6 million. Schwab further commented, "We have seen over a 200% increase in buyers this year over last year at this show."
High-end yacht broker Jamie MacGregor of MacGregor Yachts of Palm Beach Garden also commented, "The phones are ringing again as of six to eight weeks ago, what a difference a year makes."
Many yacht reps also said that much of the increase yacht demand is coming from two regions; the Northeast and Middle East. That correlates in timing with both the big bonuses about to be handed out by several Wall Street Investment banking firms at year end, and increased oil prices in the Middle East.
This begs the question; if wealthy consumers worldwide are now starting to buy multi-million dollar yachts again, are they starting to buy ultra-luxury homes again?
Local luxury home real estate expert Julie Jones of Premier Estate Properties in Ft. Lauderdale says, "Absolutely Yes".
According to Julie, the boat show's increased luxury yacht sales activity this year is mirroring the uptick in luxury home sales activity in South Florida as well.
Julie commented, "Since July 4th, I have seen a strong increase in luxury home buyers locally and from abroad in terms of more home showings, more written offers and increased quality of buyers. Most are buying $2M to $10M homes in cash."
This weekend Julie showed one of her ultra-luxury waterfront listings, priced at $7.95M, three different times to potential yacht buyers at the show. She also mentioned, "We are seeing an increase in foreign buyer activity from Russia, Europe and Canada this year as well".
Ft. Lauderdale real estate sales records show that 5 homes priced over $5M have been sold so far this year and Julie has sold 2 of them.
It seems from the feedback of various vendors at the 2009 Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show that big Wall Street bonuses and big oil are starting to re-stimulate a certain portion of the US economy again.