Maine’s hot real estate market continued to drive up prices on single-family homes in June, according to data released Thursday by the Maine Association of Realtors. 

The statewide median sale price climbed to $310,000 last month – almost 25 percent higher than in June 2020, and the average home was on the market for only six days, compared with 14 days last year and 13 days in 2019. 

Maine home sales are also still booming. Last month saw an increase of about 14.7 percent over home sales in June of last year.

“June’s high sales volume indicates that pent-up buyer demand is strong in Maine, whether that demand is fueled by choice or by circumstance,” said Aaron Bolster, broker and owner of Allied Realty in Skowhegan and president of the Maine Association of Realtors. “Realtors from across Maine report that homes continue to go under contract rapidly after receiving multiple offers.”

Statewide, 1,973 single-family homes changed hands last month, compared with 1,720 a year ago. The median sale price statewide, up 24.5 percent, was $310,000 versus $249,000 in June 2020. 

After nine months of declining inventory, more homes are once again hitting the market. 

For the third straight month, real estate professionals have seen an increase in the number of active single-family listings, Bolster said, with an 18.5 percent increase from May to June and a 55 percent increase from its low in March. 

This is a good sign, as “an increase in for-sale inventory should bring a better balance to Maine’s real estate market over time,” he said.

 

It’s still clearly a seller’s market, but Derrick Buckspan, a RE/MAX Realtor in Portland, said there’s a sense there may be some relief on the way. 

Properties are still selling, often extremely quickly and for more than the asking price, but the sheer volume of offers per listing, previously in the 20s and 30s, is creeping down and the market is starting to feel slightly less “aggressive,” he said. 

This may be due in part to what he called “buyer fatigue.” 

“People are fed up with having written five offers and not gotten anything from it,” Buckspan said.

Then, as some buyers are successful, that opens up opportunities for other buyers who may previously have been boxed out of the market. Plus, there’s a lot of new construction on the way, which takes pressure off the existing housing stock. 

Still, Buckspan said it’ll be some time before it’s a buyer’s market.

“I don’t think we’re going to see that shift in the near term,” he said. “We don’t have enough housing for people in our marketplace,” especially with more people coming in. 

For the houses that have sold recently, Buckspan said he’s noticed a shift away from homes in the immediate vicinity of amenities or with good walkability now that with more remote work, people are not as worried about a long commute. The motivating factor becomes the property itself rather than just the location, he said.

For the three-month period from April through June, sales were up 24.4 percent from those months last year, when the pandemic put a damper on the real estate industry. 

Washington and Waldo counties saw the biggest increases, with 79.5 percent and 71 percent, respectively. Hancock County also saw a large increase of 52 percent. Piscataquis and Sagadahoc counties saw sales dip slightly, with 5.5 percent and 0.86 percent decreases, respectively. 

The median price of sales from April to June was $300,000, an increase of 24 percent from $242,000 during those three months last year. 

The median in Cumberland County was highest at $450,00 (up 29 percent); the lowest was in Aroostook County at $116,000 (up 23 percent). 

Waldo County saw the biggest price jump, up almost 40 percent, from $186,250 during the same three months a year ago, to $260,000. 

Ashley Messner, a Belfast-based associate broker with the Bean Group, said Waldo County has been seeing a steady market increase for the last couple of years that was only magnified by the coronavirus pandemic. 

New homebuyers haven’t just been people “from away” looking for a second home. Though such people are in the market, there also have been buyers looking to participate in and become active members of the community. 

With all that demand comes a significant price increase in the average home sale, a decreased amount of time on the market for each property and a “real shortage of available homes,” Messner said.

“I think that for a while, we were seen as a sleepy area between large tourist destinations and year-round communities with steady jobs,” she said. 

But as the Belfast area has attracted more investment, the community has grown. 

A few years ago, everybody wanted to be in the southern part of the state, Messner said. But now, instead of sending referrals to agents there, agents in the south are sending their referrals to her.

The pandemic has only increased interest in that part of the state. 

“A lot of people, when they were forced to or given the option to go remote with work, a lot of them took stock (and said), ‘If I can work from anywhere, I want to live where I want to live,’” she said, which really “opened up this area” to more people.

Nationally, sales of detached single-family homes rose by 19.3 percent last month compared with June 2020. The national median sales price of $370,600 represents a 24.4 percent increase from last year.

Regionally, June sales in the Northeast jumped by 45.1 percent, and the regional median sales price hit $412,800 – up 23.6 percent from the year before.

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