Home sales in Maine rose 8.32 percent in April, bucking a drop in sales in the Northeast and throughout the rest of the United States.
According to Maine Listings, a subsidiary of the Maine Association of Realtors, 1,015 homes changed hands in Maine during April, up from 937 homes a year ago. The median sale price fell to $169,000, down 3.37 percent from $174,900 a year ago. The median sale price indicates half the homes sold above that price and half sold below that level.
Maine benefited from a slight drop in interest rates and a larger number of available homes on the market, Realtors said.
“A well-priced home will always have a better chance at selling, no matter the market conditions,” said Angelia Levesque, president of the Maine Association of Realtors.
Statewide, the number of home sale transactions has increased every month since February 2013. Still, the strongest activity has been seen in southern Maine. In the past three months, for example, York and Cumberland counties saw about half of the total homes sold in the state.
“There’s a lot of new homes that came on the market in April. We’ll see that activity in the May results. Inventory is going up quite a bit. It’s a combination of normal spring activity and a growing confidence among sellers that they’ll get their home sold,” said Michael Sosnowski, owner of Maine Home Connection in Portland.
Sosnowski also said Realtors are fielding more inquiries for second homes and vacation homes.
“There’s more activity than we’ve seen in a long time in this segment,” Sosnowski said.
Realtors said they were not upset by the drop in the median sale price because they expect steady gains to be seen over the long term.
“Steady, slow growth in sale price should be our goal. I expect increases of 3 to 4 percent by year-end. The idea that we are going to go up 10 to 15 percent in a month is unrealistic,” Sosnowski said.
The Maine Real Estate & Development Association said this week that the residential real estate market had strengthened since the first quarter of 2013, offsetting a slight drop in commercial activity. Overall, Maine’s real estate market showed prospects for further improvements, the association said.
“We’re not just seeing first-time home buyers in the market. We’re starting to see momentum of people looking for that next home. That doesn’t always mean a bigger home, though,” said Bart Stevens of Century 21 Nason Realty in Winslow. “As Maine’s population ages, people are finding they don’t need a 3,000-square-foot home once their kids are grown and out of the house. Some people are actually downsizing.”
Maine’s growth in April home sales offset weakness throughout the rest of the country. Nationally, home sales dropped 7.7 percent, but the median sale price rose 4.7 percent to $201,100. In the Northeast, sales were down 6.3 percent and the median sale price was roughly flat at $244,000, according to the National Association of Realtors.
“The drop in sales is a reflection of the law of supply and demand. Inventory nationally has been decreasing rapidly. The hardest-hit areas during the recession have recovered back to where they once were. There’s just not enough homes on the market for the number of sales to increase – you’re seeing three and four offers for one home in hot markets,” Stevens said.
Jessica Hall may be reached at 791-6316 or at: