The buzz is on: Everyone loves to talk about real estate, whether it is in newspapers, internet or a news program on TV. Our nation along with Maine has had statistics of rising sales. Maine Listings reports sale increases of 8.34 percent for the month of March compared to a year ago, with the average price increase of 6.25 percent from a year ago. This of course is an average for the state and will differ from one area to another.
Our inventories are tighter than they have been in years. Quality properties that are priced to reflect “current market” are under contract in a short period of time and several have more than one interested party. Areas with greater population along with their bedroom communities are definitely seeing the market moving faster than our rural towns. There has been an increase in our second home market “vacation property”, but not as much as we would like. Buyers have had the upper hand for recent years, but it is time to realize they may not be the only one at the table. From my first real estate class years ago, value and markets, whether it be sellers or buyers, is all driven by supply and demand. So in other words, if you are a buyer and are looking at a well-priced property, don’t pause too long as more competition is on the way. As we look back on the history of real estate in the last few years 2007 and 2008, sellers held tight to the prices of 2005 and 2006 and because of that nothing was selling. Then the foreclosures started happening. So if homeowners wanted to sell they needed to lower their prices. We certainly are not seeing values near the height of the 2005/2006 market in any of the levels of values and may never get back to that level in our lifetime and certainly not in the next few years. It appears that we are in a curial market and that pricing is at the utmost importance. Property will either sell quickly or will sit on the market for a long time.
We are very fortunate to be here in Maine “The Way Life Should Be”, with our back drop of natural beauty, fantastic restaurants and a great art culture. But we struggle. Change happens very slowly. Tourism is our biggest industry, and summer being the busiest season. It is important that mortgage rates continue to be attractive, although we all know this will not last forever. The stock market is back in the 14,000 on the Dow and this helps. But our biggest driver is having strong real estate markets in Boston, New York, Florida, DC and Connecticut. We rely on the out-of-state buyers either relocating or purchasing a second home in Maine.
To summarize, our outlook for 2013 remains positive despite some fiscal and political clouds. We believe we will have some unit volume gains, but our biggest factor is to keep the inventory moving by pricing the properties to sell. Supply will drive the market, and prices will rise accordingly. A successful buyer will be one that is prepared to move with having financial approvals in hand and being able to make a quick decision by being educated in the market and guided by a professional realtor. Successful sellers will be ones that have priced their properties correctly to attract the best buyers in the marketplace. So all and all we should have a satisfying year in the Maine real estate market. Most importantly a buyer or seller, should interview a number of professional brokers to find the right fit for them.
Lois O’Connor is the broker and owner of Sunset Lakes Real Estate in Casco. Lois has been a licensed broker in Maine since 1985.