The number of homes sold in Maine declined last month compared to the previous October, but prices continued to rise due to ongoing inventory shortages.
Home sales in the state fell from 2,341 in October 2020 to 2,085 last month, down 11 percent, but prices rose about 10 percent from $ 280,000 to a median of $ 308,000, according to Maine Listings , a service of the Maine Association of Brokers. The median indicates that half of the homes sold for more than $ 308,000 and the other half sold for less.
Real estate agents say the supply of real estate in the market tightened over the summer, a trend that continued into the fall, at least in part due to the fact that most properties are snapped up by eager buyers long before they are up the market are.
Demand has remained high, driven in part by overseas homebuyers in Maine. Many of these shoppers have cited the option to work from home during the pandemic and desire for a more relaxed lifestyle as their reasons for moving to Maine.
Aaron Bolster, broker and owner of Allied Realty in Skowhegan and president of the Maine Association of Realtors, said Massachusetts buyers are helping fuel Maine's resilient market.
Typically, overseas buyers make up about a quarter of home sales in Maine, he said, but that number has risen to nearly 40 percent since the pandemic broke out. He said at least 25 percent is from Massachusetts, where generally higher home prices give those moving to Maine a lot of buying power.
Michael Sosnowski, owner of Portland-based Maine Home Connection, said at least some of these buyers outside of the state have ties to the state. For example, he said he closed a waterfront home in Saco on Monday that was bought by a man and his wife from Massachusetts. The buyer, he said, grew up in Old Orchard Beach and was desperate to move, and paid $ 1.6 million for the house.
Sosnowski believes the market will not cool off much over the winter, which is usually a lull in home sales and purchases.
Inventories, he said, "have been at all-time lows for some time" and demand is not easing, which means prices are likely to remain high. Sosnowski said the top end of the market also remains strong, and that his agency has serviced more properties than ever before at a price higher than $ 1 million.
Some potential buyers may have gotten out of the market in the past few months because prices have been so high, he said, but they will likely come back after the holidays.
Bolster agreed with Sosnowski, saying the tight stocks are likely to keep the market going during the cold months.
"This summer I really believe we have increased the number of houses for sale, but it was just a small upward trend and then it went the other way," said Bolster.
New home land sales are also strong, Bolster said, but contractors are so busy that it will likely take about two years for someone buying land to build a home, so it probably won't have much of an impact on the property Overall market will have short term.
Housing construction was scarce in Maine and elsewhere, as developers pulled out during the Great Recession more than a decade ago and never actually paid back.
"We've been building houses for so long since the Great Recession," said Bolster.
In October, there weren't much differences in the slowdown in home sales across the state, although two counties – Aroostook and Kennebec – saw modest increases in transactions in the three months from August to October. Median prices increased in all 16 counties of Maine during that period, from 3.6 percent in Lincoln County to 34.2 percent in Piscataquis County.
Nationally, home sales were down 5.8 percent in October compared to the same month last year, and the median sales price rose 13.5 percent to $ 360,800, the National Association of Realtors said. In the Northeast, sales fell 13.8 percent and the average retail price rose 6.4 percent to $ 379,100.