Rick BissonAccording to Maine Listings, statewide sales volume for 2017 ended with a 0.72 percent increase over 2016, despite a tight inventory of single-family existing homes for sale at the beginning of the year.

An increase in third and fourth quarter inventory provided a boost to sales volume. Overall, 2017 had the most single-family residential sales over the 20 years Maine Listings has been tracking the data. The statewide median sales price for homes sold in 2017 reached $200,000, a 5.6 percent increase over 2016 – another historic high.

On the national level, total year-end home sales across the United States in 2017 reveal an overall uptick over the previous year. Existing-home sales for the year edged up slightly over 2016 and ended up being the best year for sales in 11 years, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Total existing-home sales across the country, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and co-ops, increased 1.1 percent in 2017 to a sales pace of 5.51 million. This result surpassed 2016’s 5.45 million sales as the highest since 2006 when total sales were 6.48 million.

Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist, says the housing market performed remarkably well for the U.S. economy in 2017, with substantial wealth gains for homeowners and historically low distressed property sales.

“Existing sales concluded the year on a softer note, but they were guided higher these last 12 months by a multi-year streak of exceptional job growth, which ignited buyer demand,” said Yun. “At the same time, market conditions were far from perfect. New listings struggled to keep up with what was sold very quickly, and buying became less affordable in a large swath of the country. These two factors ultimately muted what should have been a stronger sales pace.”

Yun added, “Closings scaled back in most areas last month for this same reason. Affordability pressures persisted, and the pool of interested buyers at the end of the year significantly outweighed what was available for sale.”

The national median existing-home price for all housing types in December was $246,800, up 5.8 percent from $233,300 in December 2016. December’s price increase marks the 70th straight month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory in the U.S. at the end of December 2017 dropped 11.4 percent to 1.48 million existing homes available for sale, and at the end of January 2018 10.3 percent lower than a year ago and has fallen year-over-year for 31 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.2-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 3.6 months a year ago and is the lowest level since the National Association of Realtors® began tracking in 1999.

“The lack of supply over the past year has been eye-opening and is why, even with strong job creation pushing wages higher, home price gains – at 5.8 percent nationally in 2017 – doubled the pace of income growth and were even swifter in several markets,” stated Yun.

For a glimpse into regional home sales in the Northeast, December existing-home sales fell 7.5 percent to an annual rate of 740,000, and in January were 2.6 percent below a year ago. The median home sales price in the Northeast for 2017 was $261,400, which is 3.0 percent above December 2016.

Looking at sales in our Midcoast region 2017 annual sales in Sagadahoc County were 494 down slightly from 499 in 2016. The median home sales price was up 8.06 percent to $213,950.
In Lincoln County, 2017 sales decreased 4.87 percent with 566 homes sold while the median home sales price was up 2.50 percent to $215,250.

Knox County’s 2017 sales rose 6.98 percent with 613 homes sold yet the median home sales price decreased 3.77 percent to $204,000.

Cumberland County sales in 2017 were down 3.67 percent and the median home sales price climbed 7.55 percent to $285,000.

To summarize, the momentum created by 2017’s year end real estate sales combined with an unprecedented Dow Jones value, solid jobs and wages report plus low interest rates provide a strong case for selling and buying real estate in 2018.

If you, or someone you know, is thinking about selling or buying real estate, talk with your trusted, expert Realtor.

This column is produced by Rick Bisson and his family, who own Bisson Real Estate with Keller Williams Realty of Midcoast and Sugarloaf.