Read the newest volume of our Real Estate Spotlight to see our President and Founder Chris Lynch’s current market analysis and tips for buyers as we approach Maine’s typically low inventory levels in winter, plus fascinating market snapshots comparing today’s regional prices and inventory to 2019, or before COVID threw the market in flux. The publication also showcases our latest extraordinary homes for sale in Maine and feature stories on unique properties.
The past four years have been an extraordinarily difficult time to be a homebuyer in Maine. The number of homes being sold continues to decline by nearly 20% when compared to the same period last year, while prices continue to rise above and beyond the sharp increases experienced in the early days of the COVID migration. The rapid rise in mortgage rates has had a greater impact on potential sellers than it has had on prospective buyers, further exacerbating the supply-demand imbalance that has characterized the Maine real estate market since 2020. Although real estate is cyclical, it is hard to see a dramatic change in the market dynamics between now and the end of 2024 or thereafter.
In addition to its cyclicality, Maine is also quite seasonal with respect to both the number of active buyers and how many homes are actively listed for sale. As we head into the dark days of December and January, we typically experience a sharp drop in homes available for sale and bump along at a low inventory level until activity resumes in March. I do not anticipate that this year will be any different.
At the moment, there are approximately 3,000 single-family homes that are “Active” on Maine’s MLS system. Nearly two-thirds (1,917) have been active for more than 30 days, indicating that potential buyers have had time to digest the salability of the current market terms. That leaves approximately 1,100 homes that are relatively fresh and still under consideration by the current pool of possible buyers. By historical standards, these are very tight inventory numbers. For perspective, at Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, we estimate that we are currently servicing more than 1,000 ready, willing, and able buyers in some capacity.
Despite the low inventory levels, there are still opportunities for committed buyers who know what they want to be active during the quiet months. Maine has approximately 1,000 homes that are under contract and displayed as “Active Under Contract” or “Pending,” and in my opinion, these represent a potential opportunity for motivated buyers to give serious consideration to presenting a backup offer or simply sharing their interest with the listing agent should the current transaction not come to fruition for any number of reasons. With the cost of living strained by inflationary pressures, economic turmoil, and record-high mortgage rates, there will be currently committed buyers who may not be able to perform on their purchase as once anticipated.
In addition to mining pending properties, there are a large number of homes that are taken off the market during the winter months. These properties are visible to your buyer agent as “Withdrawn” or “Expired” listings. In most cases, the sellers are still willing to sell, but are waiting for the spring market to re-enter a public offering. Buyers, through their agents, may be able to gain the seller’s attention during this time without the competition that will likely exist in the spring.
There has never been a more critical time to work with agents who have a strong record of success in helping their clients buy and sell property. Although the strategies I have suggested above are not high-yielding in terms of unit sales, they are effective techniques for helping our buyer clients find their special piece of Maine. In these complex markets, every little bit helps create a successful outcome for you.
Should you have any questions, please contact your agent for help in considering one of the above strategies. If you are looking for an agent to help you navigate these complex markets for buying and/or selling, feel free to reach out to me. With six offices and more than 100 active agents, we can help you achieve your real estate goals.
Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty