Sales of existing, single-family homes in Maine increased by nearly 25 percent in April compared with a year earlier, a huge improvement over the year-over-year performance in April 2015.

According to the Maine Association of Realtors, 1,285 homes were sold in April – an increase of 24.5 percent from the same month a year before, although prices remained relatively flat. In April 2015, sales were hampered by a relentless winter that dampened home-buying activity. At the end of the month, there was only a 1.7 percent increase over April 2014 sales.

Greg Gosselin, owner and broker of Gosselin Realty Group in York, said low interest rates combined with a limited inventory of homes for sale has motivated buyers to get into the market this year. Another catalyst has been the state’s unusually warm winter, he said.

“Did the weather have an impact? It absolutely had an impact,” said Gosselin, who is president-elect of the Maine Association of Realtors.

A sign announces that a house is under contract at 240 Ferry Road in Saco on Friday.  York County home sales for April jumped nearly 30 percent from a year ago – from 479 homes to 620 – while median price landed at $219,550.

A sign announces that a house is under contract at 240 Ferry Road in Saco on Friday. York County home sales for April jumped nearly 30 percent from a year ago – from 479 homes to 620 – while median price landed at $219,550. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

York County saw a significant jump in home sales this year, posting a 29.44 percent increase to 620 homes during the three-month period ending April 30 compared with the same quarter in 2015. The median price increased by 5.3 percent to $219,550, the second-highest in the state behind Cumberland’s $252,550. Maine’s most populous county had a 12.55 percent increase in sales volume over the quarter.

Saco-based Realtor Jane Frankland said one reason for the robust sales activity is that there are still foreclosed homes and short sales coming on the market in York County. In a short sale, the mortgage lender agrees to let the home sell for less than what the buyer still owes on the mortgage. It is often considered a more desirable alternative to foreclosure.

Many of those homes are being listed at prices of $200,000 or less, which is what the typical York County buyer can afford, said Frankland, manager of Maine Real Estate Network and president-elect of the York County Council of Realtors.

“A lot of them are first-time buyers,” she said.

PRICES INCREASE MARGINALLY

Prices overall have not kept pace with the increased volume of sales. The statewide median sale price of $180,000 reflected only a 1.1 percent increase from a year earlier. The median price indicates that half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

Gosselin said the fact that home prices have not increased much overall also is motivating people to buy.

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Competition for home-buying is keen, though, according to Ed Gardner, owner and broker of Ocean Gate Realty LLC in Portland and president of the Maine Association of Realtors. He said buyers should not be discouraged by losing out in a multiple-offer situation, as more homes are being listed for sale daily.

“Maine Realtors report active markets with multiple-offer situations, the norm for appropriately priced and well-presented homes, in many areas of Maine,” he said in a news release. “Inventory levels at all price points are low, and continued low mortgage rates are fueling action by qualified buyers.”

Nationally, existing home sales were up 6.2 percent from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. The median sale price for those homes reached $233,700 in April, also a 6.2 percent increase from April 2015. Regionally, the Northeast experienced a 17.5 percent increase in home sales, while the regional median sale price was up 4.1 percent to $263,600.

In Maine, sales for the three-month period ending April 30 were up 20.3 percent to 3,265 sales, and the median sale price was up 3.5 percent to $176,000. Many real estate agents think three-month statistics more accurately reflect the market because of the larger sample size.

Washington County had the largest percent increase in sales for the three-month period, with the 68 sales representing a 94.3 percent jump over the same period in 2015. However, the median sale price fell by 29.1 percent to $70,950.

The biggest jump in median sale price for the three-month period was in Lincoln County, where the median increased by 17.3 percent to $208,250. Home sales in Lincoln County increased by 30.1 percent from a year earlier to 108 homes.