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May 13, 2015

Maine real estate activity rises 25%

The MEREDA Index has increased 25% for the first quarter from the same period last year to 110, and it was largely driven by a boom in commercial real estate activity.

The Maine Real Estate & Development Association released the latest version of its quarterly real estate activity index on Tuesday at the industry group's spring conference, which focused on the intersection of food production, restaurants and real estate.

A 24% increase in the volume of commercial real estate transactions was the largest contributor to the index's growth in the first quarter. In addition, the commercial sales price per square foot increased 18% while lease rates per square foot were up by 5%.

The residential estate market saw a much smaller increase, driven mainly by increases in sales of existing homes and mortgage originations. The median sales price also saw a small increase. New housing construction, however, dropped, likely because of the harsh winter weather.

Construction employment has remained relatively flat and is about 18% below its peak in 2006, when the inaugural index was released.

"While commercial activity continues to be the driving force in the spike in the model, the residential and construction components contributions were relatively flat," MEREDA President Mike O'Reilly said in the report. "Given that the most recent two quarters took place during a difficult winter season, this is not unexpected."

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