A sale sign stands outside a home on the market Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. Credit: David Zalubowski / AP

Sales of existing single-family homes in Maine eased for the third straight month in a row compared with the previous year, indicating a moderation of the hot housing market, although prices continued to rise, according to data released Thursday by the Maine Association of Realtors.

The 2,067 homes sold showed a decline of 9.7 percent last month compared with September 2020, while the median sales price rose almost 17 percent to $320,000. The median sales price means that half of the homes sold for more and half for less. The sales volume still was 10.7 percent higher than September 2019, before the pandemic began.

Overall, 2021 is a strong year for single-family home sales, Aaron Bolster, president of the Maine Association of Realtors, said.

“Buyers are rapidly purchasing for-sale inventory as it comes on the market,” he said. Maine has a 2.1 month supply of single-family homes for sale, which is much lower than the six-month supply that reflects a balanced market.

Lincoln and Piscataquis counties saw the largest drops in home sales at about 27 percent each from July through September of 2021 compared with those same months in 2020. Aroostook County saw the largest rise, just over 12 percent to 300 units over the three-month period.

In terms of median sales price in Maine’s 16 counties, only Washington County saw a slight price drop of 3.3 percent to $160,000 over the three months. All other counties saw double-digit gains, with Knox County’s 39.4 percent rise to $369,500 being the largest jump.

Penobscot County sales were down 2.7 percent to 601 homes sold during the three-month comparison period, but prices were up 20 percent to $210,000.

Cumberland County saw a 6.1 percent drop in sales to 1,286 and an almost 20 percent rise in the median sales price to $449,950 over the three-month comparison period.

Nationally, existing single-family home sales edged down 3.1 percent compared to September 2020, but prices rose almost 14 percent to a national median sales price of $359,700.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, expects to see more homes come onto the market next year as pandemic mortgage forbearance programs end and as homebuilders ramp up production.

“Housing demand remains strong as buyers likely want to secure a home before mortgage rates increase even further next year,” he said.