Maine home sales, led by Washington County, see double-digit growth in November

By Whit Richardson, BDN Staff
Posted Dec. 21, 2012, at 3:51 p.m.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Maine home sales increased more than 20 percent in November, the second month the state’s residential real estate market has experienced double-digit growth.

During November, Realtors sold 1,058 single-family existing homes, an increase of 23.6 percent from the 856 homes sold during the same month in 2011, according to data from the Maine Real Estate Information System, based in South Portland.

The median sales price of the Maine homes sold in November inched up 1.92 percent to $172,250 when compared with November 2011.

This was the second month of double-digit growth in Maine’s residential real estate market. In October, home sales increased 24.55 percent from the period a year ago.

“The market is heading in a very positive direction,” Tina Lucas, owner of Lucas Real Estate in Portland and president of the Maine Association of Realtors, said in a statement. “However, sellers need to be careful when pricing property, as it remains a buyers’ market.”

Among Maine counties, Washington County saw the biggest percentage increase in home sales during the three-month period between September and November. Realtors in Washington County sold 59 single-family homes during the period, a nearly 64 percent increase from the 36 home sales during the same period the year before.

“The real estate market Down East is improving with the rest of the country,” Billy Milliken, owner of Jonesport Realty, told the Bangor Daily News. “We’ve seen the bottom. Prices have gone above stable and have started to appreciate a little bit, in my opinion.”

The demographics in Washington County are such that 80 percent of Milliken’s clients are people buying second homes, so it’s a market driven by discretionary income.

“In the economy we have been in that did not exist,” he said. “So much of our real estate sales are contingent on what’s happening in the rest of the world. We’re not building factories, fisheries are closed to new participants … we’re not pulling a lot of working families into Washington County.”

Despite those factors, Milliken said he has seen “reasonable sales” in all price ranges.

Other counties that experienced big jumps in November sales include Sagadahoc (45.59 percent), Penobscot (30.86 percent), Franklin (29.31 percent) and Cumberland (28.46 percent). The only counties seeing a drop in home sales were Hancock (-2.98 percent) and Somerset (-16.52).

Nationwide, home sales in November sales were up 12.4 percent and the median sales price increased 10.1 percent, to $180,600, according to the National Association of Realtors.

“Momentum continues to build in the housing market from growing jobs and a bursting out of household formation,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the national association, said in a statement. “With lower rental vacancy rates and rising rents, combined with still historically favorable affordability conditions, more people are buying homes. Areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy show storm-related disruptions, but overall activity in the Northeast is up, offset by gains in unaffected areas.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/12/21/business/maine-home-sales-led-by-washington-county-see-double-digit-growth-in-november/ printed on December 26, 2014