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Pandemic Boat Buys Boost Demand for Homes with Docks

Boating’s appeal skyrocketed during pandemic-era social distancing, and the water-lovers who pushed boat sales 12% higher now need a place to park it.

NEW YORK – Houses with private boat docks, bulkheads, sea walls and lifts are in high demand. Americans bought a record-number of boats during the pandemic in an effort to social distance and stay healthy in the great outdoors – and those purchases created more homebuyers with “a place to park my boat” on their list of preferences.

According to the Chicago-based National Marine Manufacturers Association, boat sales reached a 13-year high in 2020, up 12% from the year before, with more than 310,000 power boats sold in the United States last year.

The sales uptick is also due, in part, to people working remotely at what was their weekend house before the pandemic lockdowns. If they made that move permanent, some may also be justifying a boat’s cost if the home left behind was more expensive.

However, some waterfront communities have restrictions that cap new construction, allowing homeowners only to restore or replace existing docks. As a result, there’s a lack of dock inventory in some areas of the U.S., including in the Florida Keys and in Maine.

In the Keys, any house design takes a back seat to its water location and boat setup, according to Brett Newman of the Newman Team, Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate in Islamorada. With some buyers, “you don’t even go into the homes, you just go to the back and check out the dock,” he says.

Source: Wall Street Journal (07/21/21) Wilson, Claire

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