LEWISTON —  Now may be the perfect time to put your home on the market.

According to Google Trends, internet searches for the phrases “Should I buy a house” and “Sell my house” are at an all-time high. In Maine, the housing market is booming.

Aaron Bolster, president of the Maine Association of Realtors, said the housing market was already strong in 2019. “[Last year] just went off the rails,” he said. With more buyers than sellers, the demand for homes has continued to grow in 2021.

“I am convinced you could have put a free sign on a lot of our homes in Maine and nobody would have even took them,” Bolster said in reference to the poor housing market following the economic downturn in 2008. “[Now], 10, 12 years later they’re worth like gold.”

Homes in southern Maine and along the coast are usually in high demand. But, Bolster said that even homes in the most rural areas  of Maine, all the way up to Aroostook County, have seen double-digit appreciation. “[This] just doesn’t happen,” he said.

There are fewer homes for sale on Maine Listings than ever before, Bolster said. Owned by the Maine Association of Realtors, Maine Listings has operated for more than 20 years.

“People want to be here, with teleworking almost becoming popular overnight,” he said. “Maine is a safe place. It’s low crime, great quality of air. It’s a beautiful state. We’ve also had some pretty mild winters. So, you know, all of that just created this frenzy for real estate sales on the residential side.”

Selling a home right now is easy; some houses are receiving as many as 25 offers, he said. “But, finding that new spot to call home just isn’t available, and the builders are booked,” he said.

Many of the people currently selling houses own two homes, Bolster said. Some planned to sell one of their homes at a later time, but instead chose to sell now due to the market uncertainty created by the pandemic.

“What I’m seeing and other Realtors are seeing is people are bringing their plans forward to today because they are uncertain of 2022 or 2023, and they want to take advantage of this great market for selling,” Bolster said.

“They do not need to buy – they already have – which is very favorable in their position. So you’re seeing some of those homes come available because people are making a decision earlier than what they initially thought they would,” he said.

Bolster advises people who are interested in buying a home to begin with their end goal in mind. “I encourage any buyer to work closely with a Realtor and have a clear strategy of how they’re going to try to secure a home for them and their family,” he said.

Financing is extremely challenging right now in most markets, and cash payments are particularly appealing to sellers. One strategy Bolster suggested is working with a family member who can pay for the house upfront, and then purchasing the home from them later.

Sellers, too, need a plan, he said. Once the home is sold, the outgoing family must have somewhere to move to. In this case, owning another home is ideal. Otherwise, sellers need to carefully plan their next steps as buying a new home can take much longer than selling one.

Bolster expects there will be fewer sales overall in 2021 compared to 2020, not because the demand is less, but because there simply aren’t enough homes on the market.

“We’re probably going to drop down a few notches this year in the number of units sold just because, not that the demand is not there, but because the availability is not there,” he said.

“It’s like the perfect storm.”

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