Single-family home sales in Maine dropped almost 13 percent in January, compared with a year ago, although prices held steady, according to data released Thursday by Maine Listings.
The median sales price statewide remained unchanged from January 2018 to January 2019 at $200,000. That price indicates that half of the homes sold for more than that amount and half for less.
Even though the January 2019 statewide statistics show an overall decline, the 837 units sold was the fourth highest sale amount in any January during the past 10 years, said Peter Harrington, president of the Maine Association of Realtors.
Comparing November 2017 through January 2018 to November 2018 through January 2019, Piscataquis County topped all counties for both the largest decline in the median sales price at minus 13 percent and the highest increase in homes sold at close to 8 percent.
For those three comparative months in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019, Knox County had the highest median sales price rise at more than 25 percent, while Oxford County saw the largest decline in homes sold at minus 16 percent.
“Time will tell how much of the January and rolling quarter decreases are attributable to the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history, which ended on Jan. 25,” he said. “The shutdown delayed or completely suspended some real estate transactions that were dependent on federal government-guaranteed loans.”
“Some Maine markets continue to be tight, with statewide for-sale inventory down 2 percent, compared to a year ago. The limited supply has resulted in strong home values, which is advantageous for current homeowners looking to build equity, but also becomes a challenge for first-time homebuyers,” Harrington said.
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that it saw an 8.4 percent decline in units sold nationwide but a rise of 3.1 percent in the median sales price to $249,400, comparing January 2019 to January 2018. The Northeast experienced a 1.4 percent decrease in sales, while the regional median sales price rose 0.4 percent to $270,000 during the same period.
The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., or Freddie Mac, also released average nationwide mortgage rates Thursday. It found that mortgage rates fell for the third consecutive week, continuing the general downward trend that began late last year.
A fixed, 30-year mortgage is 4.35 percent, while a fixed 15-year mortgage is 3.78 percent. A five-year adjustable rate mortgage is 3.84 percent.
Freddie Mac noted that wages are growing on par with home prices for the first time in years. With more home inventory available, it said spring home sales should help the market begin to recover from the malaise of the last few months.