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February 4, 2019

Standish was Maine's 2018 'Hottest Town' for home sales

Courtesy / Coldwell Banker, Multiple Listing Service
Courtesy / Coldwell Banker, Multiple Listing Service
A three-bedroom house under construction at 38 Quail Ridge Road in Standish is on the market for $379,000. Standish tops the list of “Hottest Towns in Maine,” according to Maine Life Real Estate Co., which measured the largest gains in home and condo sales last year.

Standish, 20 miles from Portland and on the shore of Sebago Lake, was the hottest town in Maine real estate in 2018, according to Maine Life Real Estate Co.'s annual "Hottest Towns in Maine" list.

Two communities — Biddeford, debuting in third place, and Yarmouth — are new to the list, which was released Friday.

Meanwhile last year's hottest town, Waterville, while still hot, dropped to fifth place. The city debuted last year after never appearing in the top 20 in the years the list has been compiled.

The Scarborough-based real estate firm gathered data from the multiple listing service, operated by Maine Real Estate Information Services Inc., to calculate which Maine municipalities had the largest increases in the number of home and condo sales in 2018 and compared it to 2017 numbers. Overall, the 2018 list has 33 cities and towns.

"Ten years after the housing crisis, many experts are predicting that the market has peaked and beginning to lose steam," said the news release accompanying the list. "Against that backdrop, we once again examine the past year in Maine real estate activity, looking for which towns saw increased sales, which saw decreased sales, and what sales prices looked like across the board."

The top 10

The hottest towns this year are:

  1. Standish — 195 houses and condos sold, compared to 166 in 2017 for a 17.47% increase. Median price was $233,633, up from $230,250 in 2017 for a 1.47% increase.
  2. Auburn — 315 sold in 2018; 274 in 2017; 14.96% increase. Median 2018 price $158,666; 2017 was $140,450 for a 12.97% increase.
  3. Biddeford — 257 sold in 2018; 225 in 2017; 14.22% increase. Median 2018 price $253,733, 2017 was $232,369 for a 9.19% increase..
  4. Brunswick — 289 sold in 2018; 257 in 2017; 12.45% increase. Median 2018 price $265,000; 2017 was $257,000 for a 3.11% increase.
  5. Waterville — 176 sold in 2018; 159 in 2017; 10.69% increase. Median 2018 price $119,900; 2017 was $111,500, for a 7.53% increase.
  6. Gorham — 299 sold in 2018; 280 in 2017; 6.79% increase. Median 2018 price was $299,633; 2017 was $296,250 for a 1.14 % increase.
  7. Yarmouth — 146 sold in 2018; 140 in 2017; 4.29% increase. Median 2018 price was $450,000; 2017 was $444,000, for a 1.35% increase.
  8. Sanford — 336 sold in 2018; 324 in 2017, 3.7% increase. Median 2018 price was $176,80; 2017 was $165,000, for a 7.15%.
  9. Saco — 341 sold in 2018; 329 in 2017; 3.65% increase. Median 2018 price was $278,500; 2017 was $256,500 for 8.58% increase.
  10. Falmouth — 238 in 2018; 232 in 2017; 2.59% increase. Median 2018 price was $522,500; 2017 was $482,450 for a 8.3% increase.

2018 real estate trends

The Maine Association of Realtors reported last month that Maine had record volume and price growth in the residential market in 2018, but inventory is tight.

The group reported that a total of 17,864 homes changed hands in 2018 — a 1.31% increase over 2017, and prices jumped 7.55% to a statewide median sales price of $215,000.

"The sales year 2018 ended with the highest number of reported residential real estate transactions and highest median sales price since we began compiling data 20 years ago," said Peter Harrington, Maine Association of Realtors president and Malone Commercial Brokers broker/partner.

While no towns from Piscataquis County are represented on the Hottest Towns list, it had the greatest rate of volume increase for the year, 21%, with 350 transactions in 2018, compared with 2017's 288.

Rob Edgerly, founder and CEO of Maine Life Real Estate Co., wasn't immediately available Monday morning to discuss the list.

Some tidbits from the list are:

  • The highest increase in price among the top 20 hottest towns was Augusta, where median price leaped from $121,900 to $139,950, for a 14.81% increase. Sales in Augusta dropped slightly from 2017, from 231 to 229, for a 0.87 decrease. Augusta was 13th both this year and last year on the list, when it had a zero increase in sales and a 3.31% increase in price from $118,000 to $121,900.
  • Top town Standish was fourth two years ago, and not on the list at all last year. The town, 20 miles west of Portland, has the benefit of being both on scenic Sebago Lake's south shore and within a half hour of the state's largest city. While sales surged, median prices increased only 1.47%.
  • No. 2 "town," the city of Auburn, was 24th last year. Its twin city, Lewiston, which appeared for two straight years and was sixth last year, wasn't on this year's list.
  • Auburn and No. 3 Biddeford were the only two of the top 10 with a significant jump in both sales and sales price.
  • Maine's biggest city, Portland, finished 14th this year, but six of the cities and towns in the top 10 are within a 20-mile commute — Standish, Biddeford, Gorham, Yarmouth, Saco and Falmouth.
  • Waterville, at 76 miles from Portland, is the farthest town or city from Portland in the top 10. Auburn, at 34 miles from Portland is the next farthest, then Brunswick, at 26 miles.
  • Representing northern Maine, Bangor and Brewer were 27th and 23rd on the list, respectively, with drops in home sales of -6.08% (Bangor) and -4.48% (Brewer).
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