For the third consecutive year, single family home sales improved in 2014. Unit sales of 14,236 represented their highest level since 2005, when 14,592 homes were sold – the current record. Sales in 2014 represented a 7.8% increase over 2013 and a 42.9% cumulative increase since 2011.
The median selling price did not increase statewide. The median price of $175,000 has been unchanged for the last two years. As a point of comparison, the median price was at its highest level in 2006 at $192,000 – and dropped as low as $164,000 in 2009. The continued improved sales activity follows several years of significant market decline in both units and pricing, and reflects a more accurate level of equilibrium and improved overall liquidity for both buyers and sellers.
Most counties, especially in Southern Maine, reported similar increases in sales volume. Most individual towns and cities reported comparable unit gains, while pricing was much more variable among many local communities. Many towns reported decreases in median selling prices.
Cumberland and York Counties are the two largest real estate segments in Maine and combined to represent over 43% of the entire market. Both counties experienced solid growth in 2014, following exceptionally strong performances in 2013. Sales volume was up 6.5% in Cumberland County and 9.7% in York County.
The chart below highlights sales in 2014 with comparisons to 2013 for the entire state and selected counties of Southern Maine.
2014 vs 2013 Home Sales
All housing data has been compiled from research by Maine Home Connection using information from the Maine Real Estate Information System (MREIS).
Condos represented 11.1% of the Maine real estate market in 2014, a slight decline from 2013. Unit sales improved 4.3% while pricing improved 5.9%. The pricing improvement was better than that for single family homes. The largest markets for condos are Portland followed by Old Orchard Beach. Not surprisingly, pricing varies dramatically depending upon access to, and views of, the ocean.
According to data from MREIS, home sales improved in eleven of twelve
months of 2014 compared to sales in the same months of the previous
year. Four months recorded year-over-year gains in excess of 10% while
only one was over 20%. The largest month was October, with an increase
of 25.7%. The rate of sales increase slowed in 2014 compared to 2013.
In 2013 six months recorded sales increases of 15% or higher compared to
2012. During the first three-quarters of the year inventory levels were higher in 2014 compared to 2013, then dropped dramatically in the fourth quarter. Using Cumberland County as an example, each month of the fourth quarter has the lowest inventory levels of single family homes since 2010.
Although the inventory levels decreased, the percentage of homes under contract also declined during the latter half of 2014, and ended the year at 21.7%. In December 2013, a total of 26.5% homes were pending.
Homes priced to reflect current market conditions were sold quickly – often within days. Sellers not reacting to the new market dynamics found that their homes lingered on the market, often well above the median DOM statistics.
Across the state, the overall time to sell a home remained the same at a median of 78 days. In southern Maine, the time to sell a home was appreciably lower - 46 days in Cumberland County. Several communities in the greater Portland area were even lower, with Portland at 34 days, Cape Elizabeth at 31 and South Portland at 27.
Homes in the middle and upper price segments reported sales gains in 2014 vs 2013. Unit sales of homes priced above $500,000 increased 11.9% in 2014.
Pricing, however, varied greatly depending upon the exact price segment.
Homes in the luxury segment (above one million), made progress
recovering value lost from height of the market in 2005 and 2006.
The median price of homes sold in the segment of $500K to $1,000K declined 3.0% while those price above $1,000K improved 3.8%. Homes priced in the higest (luxury) segments experience the most volatility of any price range, with final selling prices only 84% of the original list price.
Sales of homes priced below $350,000, which represents 80% of all sales, increased 8.1% while pricing declined .6%.
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