Marina sales are booming. As the pandemic hit and forced people to socially distance themselves from friends, avoid crowds, and more or less shelter in place, many found that much needed escape on the water. In response, boat sales have skyrocketed and new generations of boaters have been born. With more boats comes more interest in boat storage so marinas have been reaping the rewards of a boating bonanza.
With marinas seeing occupancy levels at 100%, record sales on fuel and service, and boating seasons busy beyond anything in recent memory, it’s no surprise that the interest in marinas as a profitable enterprise has risen. From Wall Street investors to marina consolidators to the couple who always dreamed of owning a marina, buyers have lined up and spent money.
Simply Marinas has been fortunate to be at the forefront of all the buying and selling that has happened in the past year and even a bit beyond. The company has handled 25 marina transactions over the past 12 months accumulating more than $200 million in marina sales. We have worked with well-funded groups who allocate in excess of $100 million, each, to deploy on marina acquisitions and are constantly searching for the next great project.
Simply Marinas has managed transactions across a range of values, with competitive bidding and short closing periods. Like the crazy real estate market that took hold in the past few years, marinas also saw the period of listing to closing occur at warp speed and many facilities were able to entertain multiple offers.
Those on the selling side of marina transactions are benefitting from a limited inventory and the high barriers that are present for developing new or expanding existing facilities. In short, the waterfront is limited and in many places, it’s built out. This puts those with marinas to sell in the driver’s seat.
However, buyers are also seeing a market with benefits. Traditionally, marinas are viewed by lenders as a risky investment with a business success rate that tracks with how much disposable income the public has for boats. In a good economy, people buy boats for recreation, but when things fall apart boats are
often the first to go. This latest upswing in boating though feels a bit different. It was not sparked by a booming economy where people were flush with cash. In fact, quite the opposite was true. This time around, boat buyers are making this purchase as a quality of life and family first decision which is likely to hold on longer than a fickle economy. Lenders are more apt to provide loans for a business that looks to have long-term potential for success. Marinas right now are fitting that model.
With this in mind, there has been an increase in financing resources and lower interest rates that have played a critical role in marina sales. Lower interest rates support a higher debt coverage ratio. Banks have been increasingly receptive to lending to marinas, in some cases offering interest-only financing at low-interest rates. Prior to 2021, cap-rate averages were ranging between 7.5% and 9% but last year marinas were selling at 6 to 8%. This financial scenario has allowed those who may not have been able to afford to consider purchasing a marina, a chance to test the waters.
With the tremendous growth in opportunity for buyers, more and more marina owners are beginning to contemplate an early retirement and selling off their properties. Often these owners don’t want to alert the neighbors to a potential sale as the rumor mill can quickly turn ugly as marinas are often a big part of the communities in which they sit. Simply Marinas has conducted numerous confidential sales where
the marina is not publicly listed, but rather Simply Marinas turns to its own accumulated Buyers’ Network which houses more than 13,000 marina investors.
Whether you are a buyer or a seller, a marina transaction can be complicated as the business of a marina can encompass many facets such as food service, rentals, leasing, retail, and more. There are also regulatory issues that come with running a business in fragile waterfront ecosystems, and many insurance considerations for storm damage, worker and customer injury, and boating accidents. Marina sales require a team of experts with experience and skill to help you ensure you receive the best all around deal. Simply Marinas has decades of experience and we have built long-lasting relationships with our clients who often turn to us first as buyers and later as sellers. We constantly look for quality marinas for sale and pair those with our well-qualified clients. Our concierge services focus on not just the sale of a marina with marketing, negotiation, and transaction management, but we also help guide marinas with our marina advisory services. Looking to put a value on your facility, wondering the tax implications of a sale, wanting to compare future returns on a marina versus other investments? We can help advise you to make the best choice for you and your family. Contact us for a free initial consultation and see how we can help you plan your future.