Maine home sales and prices shot up in January, building on a hot December market that propelled 2019 figures to record levels.

Sales statewide rose nearly 27 percent, from 837 in January 2019 to 1,061 last month, Maine Listings reported Friday. The median sales price rose from $200,000 in January 2019 to $220,900 last month, an increase of 10.45 percent.

The number of sales marked a record for the month of January over the 20 years Maine Listings has tracked them, said Tom Cole, president of the Maine Association of Realtors and managing broker of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate/The Masiello Group in Brunswick.

“We’re continuing to experience low supply and high demand, with buyers ready to purchase and waiting for homes to come onto the market,” Cole said.

January built on a strong December, when sales grew 23 percent compared to December 2018 and the median sales price rose nearly 5 percent over the same period.

The Maine figures exceeded growth in the market nationally in percentage terms. Sales nationally rose 9.7 percent in January compared to the same month a year earlier and the median sales price increased 6.9 percent to $268,600. Regionally, sales in the Northeast increased 7.4 percent and the median sales price rose 11.5 percent to $312,100 in January 2020 compared to a year ago.

Among Maine’s counties, sales volume increased at the highest rate in Franklin County, where the number of sales grew 24.7 percent, from 97 units during the November 2018-to-January 2019 quarter to 121 units during the same quarter in 2019-20. Sales declined by 5 percent in Androscoggin County, where the number of units sold dropped from 277 from November 2018 to January 2019 to 263 during the same quarter a year later.

Median sales prices climbed the most in Somerset County, up 36.2 percent from $94,900 during the November 2018-January 2019 quarter to $129,500 during the same three months in 2019-20. Prices dropped by 18.7 percent in Aroostook County, from $98,000 in the 2018 to 2019 quarter to $79,700 during the most recent three months.

Cumberland and York counties both posted solid gains in sales and prices.

In Cumberland County, 930 units changed hands during the November 2019-to-January 2020 quarter, an increase of 15.4 percent over the 806 units sold during the same period in 2018-19, while the median sales price rose 8.3 percent over the same period, from $300,000 to $325,000.

Sales in York County grew 10.3 percent, from 644 in November 2018 to January 2019 to 710 during the most recent quarter, while the median sales price increased 6.5 percent, from $276,500 to $294,500 over those same time periods.

Michael Sosnowski, owner of Maine Home Connection in Portland, cautioned that the January 2020 sales and price figures are being compared to a soft month for the market in January 2019 and, indeed, for the first few months of 2019.

“We’re comparing it against a very slow first quarter of 2019,” he said. Strong sales in December, he said, rescued what otherwise might have been a relatively flat year.

But, Sosnowski said, there’s little indication that the market will cool from its current surge. Interest rates look like they will stay low, he said, and a tight inventory of homes for sale will build a strong floor under prices. Maine Listings said the average number of days on the market declined 32 percent in January and the statewide median was just 43 days, suggesting that buyers know they need to act quickly if they find a home they like.

Sosnowski said his company helped buyers sign a few contracts in January on new homes yet to be built, which is very rare in midwinter because actual construction can’t get underway for three or four months. He said mild weather also helped bring buyers out during a time when the market tends to cool.

And, he said, his company tracks visits to its website, where people can look at homes on the market. Hits on the site rose to new highs during the last few months of 2019 and then continued to grow in January, he said.

“There’s still a strong market and that’s a very encouraging sign,” Sosnowski said.


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