A for sale sign graces a window of a building in Portland on Friday, May 6, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

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Maine homes are selling nearly a month faster than the U.S. average, underscoring the challenges buyers are facing in a national housing crunch.

Nationally, a typical home spent 34 days on the market in the United States in April, according to Realtor.com’s April housing market report. The standard Maine home spent just nine days on the market in March, according to the most recent data from the Maine Association of Realtors.

A limited number of homes is squaring up against significant demand and recent population growth here during the COVID-19 pandemic, driving up prices and making it more difficult than ever to afford homes. Inventory remains a major barrier nationally. For every five homes available in early 2020, there are now two, the April report said.

Homes in Maine are going “amazingly quick,” said Kate Werner, a real estate agent with Balsam Realty in Freeport. Homes are often listed on a Thursday or Friday at her agency with offers due by Monday or Tuesday. Sales are made shortly after.

“Not enough sellers are looking to sell their homes,” Werner said.

Though there are some indications supply may be increasing for the better, Werner expects the housing market to continue to be tough to navigate, especially with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates last week. Many are afraid of selling their homes because they know finding a new one in the current market would be difficult, she noted.

Prices still are increasing both in and out of Maine. The median sales price here was $325,000 in March, up 21 percent from March 2021, according to the Maine Association of Realtors. The nationwide median price was $425,000 in April 2022, a 14 percent increase since April 2021.

Median days on the market declined 32 percent for the week of April 20 in the Portland Metro area, according to Realtor.com. Active listings were down 11 percent and median prices were up 17 percent.

Mainers might want to buy a home cheaper than what they can afford, not just for financial reasons, but so they can potentially make a higher offer if a bidding war ensues, Werner said.

They might also want to look into more rural areas, which tend to be less expensive than the coast. Werner has seen more people drawn to rural areas since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everyone wants that house on the water, and they’re still for sale,” Werner said. “But I also think people are thinking it might be nice to have a little more land and maybe to move to a smaller town.”