Maine home sales grow by nearly twice the national average

A home on Norway Rd. in Bangor in June 2011.
John Clarke Russ | BDN
A home on Norway Rd. in Bangor in June 2011. Buy Photo
By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff
Posted Aug. 22, 2013, at 2:36 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The increase in home sales in Maine last month outpaced the national average by almost double, according to figures released by a real estate trade association this week.

The average sales prices, however, failed to grow as quickly as the final price tags seen elsewhere.

The Maine Association of Realtors announced Wednesday that 1,426 single-family existing homes were sold in the state last month, an increase of 31.31 percent compared with the 1,086 such homes that changed hands in July 2012. That rate of increase is nearly twice the 16.4 percent jump, year-over-year, reported nationwide in July.

Bart Stevens, president of the association, said he expects the upward trend in Maine to continue as the leaves change colors.

“Activity over the summer remained strong with buyers from all price points,” Stevens said in a statement. “Fall generally represents a strong sales season here in Maine, and the market should move along at a comfortable pace.”

Sale figures by county during the past three months also indicate more interest among buyers but mixed results on sale prices.

The Maine county that saw the biggest jump in home sales percentage-wise was Franklin, where 76 single-family existing homes were sold between May 1 and July 31 of this year. That’s a 55 percent increase from the 49 homes sold during the same period in 2012, although prices dropped year-to-year from an average of $133,000 per property down to $126,750.

Increases of greater than 30 percent in the number of single-family existing homes sold during that three-month period, when compared to the previous year, were also found in Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Waldo counties.

The sales prices for homes in Lincoln County shot up, with the median sales price for a home sold in the southern coastal county going from $176,000 in the May-July stretch of 2012 to $224,000 — a climb of 27.3 percent — during that time period this year.

The most expensive homes remain in the state’s most populous and southern counties, Cumberland and York, which are home to five of Maine’s 10 largest municipalities. In Cumberland County, where the state’s largest city of Portland is located, the median home sales price from May-through-July of this year was $249,000, up 7.7 percent from the previous year.

In York County, where neighboring Biddeford and Saco combine to have approximately 40,000 residents, average sales prices inched downward, from $225,000 in the May-July period of 2012 to $224,900 during the same stretch of this year.

The least expensive homes in Maine can still be found in Piscataquis County, where average prices fell further in 2013 from already last-place numbers a year ago. The state’s least populous county saw median sales price numbers of $79,950 in May-July 2012 tumble by 15.6 percent to $67,500 in the same three months this year.

Sales and prices in Maine’s largest county in terms of landmass grew, however, with Aroostook seeing 123 single-family existing homes sold in May-July of this year at a median price of $95,000, compared to 107 sales at about $84,500 apiece during those three months of 2012.

Statewide, although average sale prices for single-family existing homes rose, they lagged behind national and regional figures. The median sales price for the July wave of sales was approximately $179,000 in Maine, the association announced, which represents a 4.68 percent jump over the previous year’s sales.

The National Association of Realtors reported that across the country, the median sales price during the same month was $214,000, up 13.5 percent compared to July 2012. In the Northeast, the national group has seen a 6.7 percent increase in average sales prices over the last year, steadying at $271,200 in July of this year.

Overall, Stevens of the Maine Association of Realtors described the latest in-state trends as cause for optimism.

“Sellers have reacted strongly to buyer interest this summer, and have placed homes on the market at a steady pace,” he said in a statement.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/08/22/business/maine-home-sales-grow-by-nearly-twice-the-national-average/ printed on July 28, 2014