Sales of existing single-family homes in Maine continued to drop in September, but prices still climbed.

Home sales fell by nearly 10 percent last month compared with September 2020, and prices rose by nearly 17 percent to a median of $320,000, Maine Listings reported Thursday.

According to the real estate service, 2,067 homes changed hands in Maine last month, down from 2,290 for the same month last year. But prices continued to climb, with the median sales price – meaning half of the homes sold for more money and half sold for less – rising to $320,000 from $273,700 in September 2020.

The high demand and tight inventory means that many homes are selling quickly after they come on the market, said Aaron Bolster, broker/owner of Allied Real Estate in Skowhegan and president of the Maine Association of Realtors.

Bolster said there’s currently a little more than two months’ supply of homes on the market in Maine, well below the six-month supply that normally indicates a balanced market of homebuyers and homes for sale.

The number of single-family housing units sold was down in all but two of Maine’s 16 counties over the three-month period ending Sept. 30 when compared with the same period a year earlier. During that same period, all but one county experienced double-digit increases in median price.

The inventory of homes on the market seemed to be climbing in the spring, Bolster said, and he hoped that trend would continue. But over the summer and into the fall, “it’s gone the other way,” he said.

November and December aren’t typically a time when many people to put their home up for sale, he said, so there’s no sign that inventory is likely to grow in the short term.

“It’s wild,” he said. “I don’t know where the end is, it just keeps going.”

Part of the problem, Bolster said, is that potential house-sellers face a difficult home-buying process with so few homes on the market, leading many to decide to hold off on the sale. Even with the prospect of a good sales price for their home, he said, they know buying another home will be expensive and difficult.

Bolster said he and others in the real estate market need to focus on solving that problem to keep the market going. A recent change in state law that blocks towns from restricting construction of “tiny homes” could help, he said. It bars towns from requiring that new homes be at least 400 square feet or more, Bolster said, and those small dwellings could prove attractive for empty-nest homeowners who no longer need multiple bedrooms now that their children have grown and moved away.

A major factor that’s driving the market, Bolster said, remains strong interest from out-of-state buyers. Typically, about 25 percent of homes sold might go to a buyer from out-of-state, he said, but in September, they made up 36 percent of the market.

But even though sales dipped last month compared with a year earlier, Bolster said sales volume in the state remains above pre-pandemic levels. He said the number of home sales last month was 10.7 percent above that of September 2019, about six months before the pandemic hit the United States.

And, Bolster said, sales for the year to date are up 8.4 percent compared with the same period last year, and 11.9 percent higher than January through September of 2019.

Nationally, single-family home sales fell by 3.1 percent in September compared with the same month a year ago, while the median sales price rose by nearly 14 percent to $359,700, the National Association of Realtors said. Regionally, sales in the Northeast fell by 8.3 percent, and the median sales price rose by 9.2 percent to $387,200 last month compared with a year earlier.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.