Prices of homes kept rising in June, but at slower pace

Home prices continued to rise nationally in June, but the pace of the growth slowed.

Single-family home prices in 20 major cities rose a seasonally-adjusted 0.9 percent in June from a month earlier, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. That was down from the 1 percent gain in May.

On an annual basis, home prices in the 20 cities were up 12.1 percent in the year that ended in June.

No Maine cities are in the index, but the state does tend to track in the same direction, said Charles Colgan, professor of public policy and management at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service.

“Since the peak of the housing market in 2006, Maine has lagged some of the national numbers but we’ve been pointing in the same direction and mirroring the trends,” Colgan said.

In recent months, home prices have been on the rise. In July, Maine’s median sale price — half the homes sold for more and half for less — increased 4.9 percent from a year ago to $179,000. In June, the median sale price was $184,000, up 4.8 percent from the period a year earlier.

 

Fairpoint to add or improve Web broadband in 44 towns

FairPoint Communications said Tuesday that it plans to expand or upgrade broadband Internet service in 44 Maine towns in unserved locations or places with low-speed access.

The announcement came two weeks after the Maine Public Utilities Commission approved an agreement with the company over the terms of how it would expand service in rural areas. The agreement also requires FairPoint to extend broadband service to 87 percent of its customers by April 2014.

FairPoint said multiple neighborhoods in 44 towns will be upgraded or get new high-speed broadband access. The towns include Bowdoin, Dresden, Parsonsfield, Porter and Topsham.

“Broadband access opens doors to the world for the residents and businesses in Maine and is fundamental to the state’s future economic growth,” said Mike Reed, FairPoint’s Maine state president.

FairPoint said it will use $1 million from the Federal Communications Commission’s Connect America Fund. The expansion will bring broadband access or offer higher speeds to about 6,000 locations, of which more than 1,659 locations qualify for the federal fund.

The work will span three years, with about a third of the communities coming online each year, FairPoint said.

Credit card arm of Barclays to add 200 jobs in Wilton

Barclaycard, the U.S. credit card arm of the British financial firm Barclays, plans to add 200 jobs in Wilton over the next two years.

The Wilton customer service branch of Barclaycard will add 100 jobs within the first year, bringing the total number of jobs there to 250. Another 100 jobs will follow in 2014, according to a statement from Gov. Paul LePage.

Barclaycard has been in Wilton since 2008, providing customer service for its credit cards

“Maine’s work ethic played a role in this expansion,” said George Gervais, commissioner of economic and community development.