Home sales, and prices, across the state are on the rise, according to April sales data and local real estate agents, and central Maine is seeing the results.

Driven in large part by low interest rates and growing consumer confidence, Maine saw a nearly 14 percent increase in sales of single-family homes, and a just over 4 percent increase in the median sales price, according to Maine Listing Service data released Wednesday.

“Interest rates are crazy low, under 4 percent,” said Eben Thomas, owner of Coldwell Banker Thomas Agency in Winthrop. “So the cost of money right now is cheap. This year, so far, has turned out to be a good year for sales.”

Thomas said the under-$150,000 market is so hot right now it has gotten much harder to find homes in that range than it was just six months ago.

“But we’re seeing increases, not only in the lower end, but also the medium price range, $175,000 to $200,000, also the $200,000 to $250,000,” Thomas said. “Even the higher end, $400,000 plus waterfront, is doing very well. The only section lagging is your land. That’s because the cost of building is so high, still. Until existing homes come up in value, you’re going to see land sales stay sluggish.”

Cindy Stevens, an associate broker with Century 21 Surette Real Estate in Waterville, said their inventory is also moving faster.

“The phone has been ringing, which keeps people here happy,” Stevens said. “The mortgage rates are great, so people are able to get the money. And the sellers aren’t as petrified or feeling like they have to give away their properties. One grows the other. If people aren’t in the market now, what are they waiting for?”

Nationwide, sales increased 9 percent in the past 12 months, and the median sales price jumped 11 percent to $193,000 nationally, according to the National Association of Realtors.

In Maine, the median sales price, the point at which half the homes sold for more and half sold for less, was $174,900 last month, an increase of 4 percent. A total of 937 homes sold during the month.

Bart Stevens, president of the Maine Association of Realtors and owner of Century 21 Nason Realty in Winslow, said in a news release the market in Maine continues to improve. He said in addition to home sales, more buyers are also making what he called quality of life investments by purchasing camps and other recreational properties.

Stevens said in many markets, sellers having multiple offers to choose from is becoming more frequent.

Diane Garcell, a real estate agent with ERA Webb in Augusta, said the firm has indeed started to get some multiple offers on properties.

She said Maine’s market might not be as hot as some other areas, but said increasing sales elsewhere can have a positive impact in Maine, especially with second home vacation type properties.

“When our market was really booming, people (from other areas) were coming up and paying cash for waterfront, because they had so much equity growth in their market,” Garcell said. “As their markets open up, ours improves too.”

She added she had just gotten a call from someone looking to move from Concord, N.H., to Winthrop, who was anxious to buy because it should be easy to sell the property in New Hampshire.

Agents anticipate the low interest rates, and increased sales, will continue this summer and, they hope, beyond.

“The market is starting to turn,” Thomas said. “It’s about time.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]

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