April 01, 2020
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Strong Maine home sales in February may not be long-lived amid coronavirus, experts say

Keith Srakocic | AP
Keith Srakocic | AP
Model homes and for sale signs line the streets as construction continues at a housing plan in Zelienople, Pa., Wednesday, March 18, 2020. U.S. home sales jumped in February to their highest level in 13 years, a trend that will almost certainly be reversed as the viral outbreak keeps more people at home.

As of 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 70 Maine residents have been confirmed positive for the coronavirus, according to the state. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.

High demand and low interest rates continued to drive strong sales of existing single-family homes in Maine in February, Maine Listings said Friday.

Home sales rose 5.75 percent last month compared to February 2019. The median sales price for the 865 homes sold was $216,900, up 8.45 percent over the year’s period. The median sales price indicates that half of the homes were sold for more and half for less.

The figures follow record-breaking sales in 2019. Sales remained strong in January, rising to a 20-year high, up nearly 27 percent compared with January 2019. That was almost triple the 10 percent rise nationally in January. The median sales price in Maine was up 11 percent to $220,900.

“February 2020 was an especially strong month for real estate sales, recording the second-highest number of February sales (865) since we began keeping statistics 20 years ago,” said Tom Cole, president of the Maine Association of Realtors.

Nationwide, sales of single-family existing homes were up 7.3 percent this February compared to February 2019. The median sales price was up 8.1 percent over the year to $272,400.

Lawrence Yin, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said February’s home sales are encouraging, but they don’t reflect the current turmoil in the stock market or the significant hit the economy is expected to take because of the coronavirus and corresponding social quarantines.

“These figures show that housing was on a positive trajectory, but the coronavirus has undoubtedly slowed buyer traffic and it is difficult to predict what short-term effects the pandemic will have on future sales,” Yun said.

Cole said Maine real estate agents are concerned about the health of their customers.

“With the current COVID-19 outbreak, Realtors have listened to, and are adapting to, clients’ and customers’ concerns and needs,” he said. Realtors are following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to keep buyers and sellers safe, he said.

Nine of Maine’s 16 counties saw home sales rise more than 20 percent in the three months from December 2019 to February 2020 compared to that same timeframe in 2018-2019. Franklin, Somerset and Washington counties saw median sales price rises of more than 20 percent.

Franklin County experienced the highest unit sales rise of 41 percent, with 100 homes sold. Prices also rose 24 percent to $160,000.

In Cumberland County, unit sales rose 20 percent to 770 homes sold at a median sales price of $317,250, up 9 percent.

Penobscot County also saw a rise of 21 percent to 350 homes with a median sales price of $155,150, up almost 15 percent.

 

 

 


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