Marina Valuation - A Starting Point

My thinking is to break this huge topic up into bite sized chunks over a series of blog posts. Hopefully, when we’re done, you’ll have a useful treatise that you can refer to as you approach that day when you’re ready to get serious about putting your property on the market.

Determining the valuation of your marina is not a daunting project, it just requires some organization and a process to get us started.  All traditional valuations begin with a review of three approaches – cost, comparable sales and income. Note that these are a starting point. They get us moving. Once we’ve evaluated these approaches, the next phase of the valuation is to consider the characteristics that make your marina unique - and potentially worthy of a premium.

Let’s get the valuation going with a look at the first two approaches to value.

Cost

The cost approach is most appropriate when valuing new marina developments or reclamation projects of abandoned or heavily damaged properties. Since my goal in life is to provide valuable information to owners of operating marinas, the cost approach is't as relevant to us and can be set aside. 

The sales comparison and the income approaches are better suited to valuation of operating marinas. 

Comparable Sales

The Sales Comparison Approach – I’ll bet you are aware of the sales of marinas in your area.  You are certainly keenly interested in the sales prices achieved and you naturally apply an instant comparison to your property. You may be dead on the money, but this is often the root of the misperception that leads to an unreasonable expectation of value.

Brokers and appraisers are constantly on the lookout for comparable sale information, which can be difficult to find for marinas. We find comparable data through paid subscriptions to certain business brokerage and real estate services such as LoopNet, BizBuySell and Merger Network. We also find information in property tax records, from fellow brokers and our own listing and sales activity. Marina transactions occur much less frequently than other commercial real property transactions. And locality is an important factor.  The price received for a marina sale in Fort Lauderdale may bear little comparison to a sales price in Jacksonville.

Once we identify several transactions (the more recent the better) it is imperative to make adjustments in value in comparison to our own marina. It is hard enough to find good comparable transactions, but it can be almost impossible to determine many of the operational and economic characteristics of the potential comparable property.  We won’t be able to see the operational income of the comparable. Did the comparable offer similar services? Are the outbuildings or dock construction similar?

Typical adjustments are made for size of upland acreage, wet slips or dry stack racks, improvements and utilities, services provided, water depth, age of infrastructure, and even distance to a navigable inlet. As mention in the previous paragraph, it can be very difficult to know these factors about the potential comparables.

While this approach will certainly be attempted by a broker in an opinion of value, I think that without engaging a professional, it will only provide a broad potential range of value in our quest to value your marina. Nevertheless, the effort to dig up any information on marina sales will be worthwhile.

Shoot! I realize I’m about to exceed my word count!  Please hang in there and I’ll get in to quite a bit more depth on the third, and in my opinion the most appropriate valuation approach for most operating marinas, the income approach.