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March 21, 2022

Maine home sales drop in February, but prices surge over 20%

FILE PHOTO When it comes to home deals, cash is king 31% of the time.

Home sales in Maine continued a familiar pattern during February, with surging prices but shrinking deal numbers due to a lack of inventory.

According to Maine Listings, the number of sales dropped 17.3% from a year ago, while the median sales price jumped 21.5% percent to $297,500. The median sales price indicates is the level at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

“The demand for Maine homes sales remains strong and home sales totals are being held back by the low supply of for-sale inventory,” said Madeleine Hill, president of the Maine Association of Realtor and designated broker at Roxanne York Real Estate on Bailey Island. “Even after two years of the pandemic, most homes for sale in Maine are receiving multiple purchase offers and are under contract within days.”

The trend follows similar results in Maine over recent months, and nationwide.

The National Association of Realtors reported a 2.2% dip in U.S. sales during February from the year-ago period. The national median sales price rose 15.5% to $363,800.

Regionally, sales of single-family existing homes in the Northeast declined 12.7% while the regional median sales price increased 7.1% to $383,700.

“While it’s a competitive market for buyers, record numbers are becoming Maine homeowners,” said Hill. “The number of single-family homes sold in February 2022 is the second-best February in the past five years, and third best since we began keeping records 24 years ago.”

Throughout the state, sales volume dropped in the three months ending Feb. 28 in every county but Androscoggin, which saw sales volume rise 9.3%, and Aroostook and Penobscot counties, which saw flat sales. The median sales price rose in every county.

In Portland, home prices crept up in the early part of 2022 after tapering off in the later part of 2021, according to Benchmark Real Estate.

“It doesn’t feel like buyer demand has materially changed, but inventory is scarce,” said Benchmark Real Estate owner Tom Landry.

Based on data from Maine Listings, Landry said the number of properties for sale in Portland in February was down 33% from a year ago. February sales were down 47% versus the same month last year.

While a winter slowdown is typical in Maine’s real estate market, Landry added that the past few years have been anything but typical. Home prices nearly doubled in one year as buyers from major metro areas across the country fled the cities in the first year of the pandemic. This year, the fear of higher interest rates coupled with an early start to spring has sustained a higher level of buyer demand, Landry said.

“The full impact of a post-COVID return to the cities is yet to be seen. And with rates going up and the current geopolitical climate, we could see a softening of the market,” Landry said.

But he pointed out that without the typical spring increase in inventory, prices would likely remain high. For now, he said, it’s still a seller’s market.

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