Maine home sales jumped and prices shot up as well in November.

The Maine Real Estate Information System reported that 1,414 homes changed hands last month, an increase of 17.74 percent over the 1,201 homes that sold in November 2015. Prices were up as well, to a statewide median of $191,863, compared to $180,000 in November 2015. That’s an increase of 6.59 percent.

Both indicators are in line with regional and national trends, showing strong residential sales closing out 2016. Nationally, existing homes jumped 16.2 percent since last November. The National Association of Realtors also reported a 6.8 percent rise of the national median sales price to $236,500. The Northeast region experienced a 15.7 percent increase in sales while the median price was up 3.3 percent to $263,000.

Brenda Fontaine of Fontaine Family real estate said she senses that a lot of momentum has built up in the Maine housing market that will carry on past the holidays.

“It’s been a great year and I think next year will also be a great year,” said Fontaine, whose firm has offices in Auburn and Scarborough.

Fontaine said the only thing holding back the market, particularly in the Lewiston-Auburn area, is a lack of inventory. That means there are often multiple offers on houses for sale, which explains the higher prices, she said.

Fontaine said interest rates on mortgages have inched up as the year has gone on, but they are still low by historical standards and that will help fuel the market. She said buyers who can get a state or federally-backed housing loan can still find rates below 4 percent, which makes houses affordable to more people.

Next year, Fontaine said, she expects to see more buyers moving up to larger houses. After years of staying in the same house because of the market collapse six or seven years ago, she said, many families may find that prices have recovered enough that it’s a good time to sell and step up to a larger house.


The strength of the housing market varied around the state. Three counties – Waldo, Cumberland, and Washington – reported a decline in the number of sales during the September to November quarter, compared to the same three months in 2015. In Waldo, and Cumberland counties, the declines were modest at 0.69 percent and 1.01 percent, respectively, but in Washington County, the decline was sharper, at 8.5 percent. But in raw numbers, rather than percentages, that was a minor reduction, reflecting a decline from 105 homes sold in during the quarter last year compared to 96 sold during the same three months this year.

Aroostook County recorded the sharpest increase in home sales during the quarter, from 123 last year to 175 this year, a rise of 44.28 percent. Oxford and Penobscot counties also reported sharply higher sales during the quarter.

On the price side, the biggest jump in median prices during the quarter was in Knox County, where the median sales price increased from $187,250 to $222,250, an increase of 18.69 percent. Most other counties saw increases of around 7 or 8 percent.

The only decline in median price was in Aroostook County, where the median price during the September-November quarter slipped from $84,000 last year to $83,000 this year.

Sales were especially strong in Massachusetts, according to The Associated Press.

It reported that the Boston-based Warren Group reported that the 5,061 single-family homes sold in the state last month was the highest November sales amount since 1998 and a 26 percent increase over the same month last year.

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors, meanwhile, reported that November recorded the most closed sales for the month on record.

Both organizations also reported an increase in median prices of about 5 to 6 percent – up to $365,000 according to the Realtors and up to $349,000 according to The Warren Group. The groups use different numbers in their calculations.


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