February 23, 2019
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Shutdown stifled end of record year for Maine home sales

David Zalubowski | AP
David Zalubowski | AP
Maine home sales broke some records last year. In this Aug. 30, 2018, file photo, a sold placards top sale signs outside homes on the market in Denver.

Single-family home sales in Maine last year rose in both volume and price, though the number of units in December declined, dampened by the government shutdown, according to Maine Listings.

“The sales year 2018 ended with the highest number of reported residential real estate transactions (17,864) and highest median sales price ($215,000) since we began compiling data 20 years ago,” said Peter Harrington, president of the Maine Association of Realtors.

The sales were up 1.31 percent over 2017, and the median sales price was up 7.5 percent. The median sales price indicates that half of the homes were sold for more and half sold for less.

However, the fourth quarter, and especially December sales, declined in the number of transactions, although values remained solid.

In December, the number of units sold statewide decreased about 15 percent from December 2017. The median sales price, however, was up more than 7 percent to $217,000 year over year.

“It’s difficult to gauge a market’s direction during the month of December. The true test will come as we move into the spring selling season,” Harrington said.

“We know that some of Maine’s sales decreases are attributable to the partial government shutdown, which has created consumer uncertainty,” he said. “The shutdown has delayed or completely suspended some real estate transactions that were in the pipeline for government-guaranteed loans.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program has not been operational for the entire shutdown. Loans guaranteed through the program account for around 10 percent of Maine’s home sale transactions, Harrington said.

Piscataquis County had the highest increase in the number of units sold in 2018 over 2017, up 21.5 percent. The median sales price also rose a healthy 19 percent to $106,250 over 2017.

Knox County had the highest median sales price rise at 20 percent to $245,000.

Hancock and Waldo counties experienced the largest unit sales decline at 3 percent.

The smallest median sales price rise was in Hancock County, with no change year-to-year.

Penobscot County saw almost flat sales, with transactions increasing by five units to 1,728 in 2018. The median sales price was up 3.5 percent to $144,900.

Cumberland County saw a 0.56 percent decline in units sold at 4,073 in 2018. The median price was up, though, by 7.7 percent to $307,000.

Nationally, December sales were down 10.1 percent, compared with December 2017, although prices increased 2.9 percent to $255,200, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Regionally, home sales in the Northeast decreased 6.8 percent in December and prices increased 8.2 percent to $283,400, comparing December 2018 to December 2017.

 



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