Sales of detached single-family homes in Maine shot up more than 17 percent in September compared with a year earlier, a sign that sellers have renewed confidence in the housing market, the Maine Realtors Association said Thursday.

A separate report issued Thursday by RE/MAX Integra of New England, which included both detached homes and condominiums, said combined sales were up more than 14 percent in Maine from September 2014.

The median sale price for a detached single-family home rose about 6 percent in September, to $185,450 from $175,000 a year earlier, according to Maine Listings, a Maine Realtors Association subsidiary. The median price indicates that half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

Association President Marie Flaherty said in the report that the sales increase is a sign more homeowners believe they can get a fair price for their homes.

“With refreshed market confidence, many sellers have been prompted to place their homes on the market,” Flaherty said. “Even with the additional new construction Maine is experiencing, our existing-home market supply is below five-year averages in many areas.”

Although Cumberland and York counties continued to dominate the market in September, other counties saw a boost in sales during the three-month period that ended Sept. 30, Maine Listings said. They included Washington County, where sales were up 41 percent from a year earlier; Lincoln County, where sales increased 34 percent; and Knox County, where they were up 32 percent.

“An increased interest in purchasing second homes has helped markets beyond the city limits,” Flaherty said. “Stable market conditions and the discussion of increasing interest rates are part of some decisions as well.”

Michael Sosnowski, owner and broker at Maine Home Connection in Portland, said year-to-date sales in Cumberland County are up about 17 percent compared with the same period of 2014, but the median sale price has remained relatively stagnant, up less than 2 percent.

Another positive sign is that months of inventory – which measures the amount of time it would take to sell all existing listings at the current sales rate if no new listings became available – has decreased significantly in Cumberland County to about seven months. Real estate professionals generally consider six months or less of available inventory to be the sign of a healthy market.

“The market is strong,” Sosnowski said. “We continue to be selling at a greater rate than we were a year ago.”

Activity also is expected to remain strong. RE/MAX reported that 1,781 home sales were pending in Maine in September, an increase of 15 percent over the same period in 2014.

Nationally, home sales jumped nearly 5 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.6 million, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Buying activity rebounded after slipping in August, indicating that demand for housing continues despite a series of recent economic hits: stock market declines, a slowdown in China, struggles in emerging nations such as Brazil and Turkey, and stagnation in Europe, The Associated Press reported. Tight inventories have fueled rising home values, which were reflected in a national median sale price of $221,900 in September, a 6 percent annual increase.

Detached home and condo sales were up across New England in September, according to RE/MAX, with the biggest gains in New Hampshire (21 percent), Connecticut (16 percent) and Massachusetts (15 percent). The average sales increase for the region was 15 percent, it said.


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