Over the past two years, Maine’s real estate economy has grown to a level of activity not seen since the market’s previous heyday in early 2006, according to a biannual report to be issued Thursday.

The MEREDA Index, an indicator of the strength of Maine’s commercial and residential real estate markets, reached a new post-recession high of 95.7 in the first quarter, up slightly from 95.67 in the third quarter of 2016, according to the report, from the Maine Real Estate & Development Association.

The index compares the market’s current strength to its previous high point, in the first quarter of 2006. An index score of 100 would mean that market activity was roughly identical to the first quarter of 2006.

The index fell sharply from 2006 to 2010 and then remained relatively flat for three years before rising sharply through 2014 and 2015. Since then, it has continued to rise but at a declining rate.

Commercial real estate activity helped buoy the MEREDA Index in the first quarter. The commercial component, which comprises 50 percent of the overall index, increased by 8.6 percent from the third quarter of 2016 to reach a score of 101. That means it actually surpassed the first quarter of 2006. The commercial component is based on data pertaining to sales and leases of office, retail, industrial and investment properties such as apartments.

The residential component, which comprises 40 percent of the index, remained unchanged from six months earlier at a score of 89. It is based on residential building permits, mortgage originations, housing inventory and home sales volume and median price.

The estimated quarterly median home price rose to $195,000, equivalent to the first-quarter 2006 figure on which the index is based, but permits for new housing units dropped by nearly 17 percent from six months earlier.

The construction component, which comprises 10 percent of the index, increased by 8.6 percent from six months earlier to a score of 93. It is based on construction employment, which MEREDA said grew at its highest rate since before the recession.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

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