Elise Kiely, Senior Vice President , Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty recently provided insight for the Spring 2019 Edition of the MEREDA Index by sharing her perspective on the Residential Sector over the last 6 months.
We are continuing to see robust sales activity in Maine’s residential market. 2019 has started off with relatively low inventory and strong demand across most price points. Volume of units sold may be lower in some sectors due to lack of inventory, but we are seeing some increases in sale prices. Properties in good condition and appropriately priced are seeing multiple offers with sale prices at or above list price. The pattern is similar to what we experienced last year at this time. Our spring selling window continues to start earlier in the year,
encouraging some homeowners to list their homes in January and February, as opposed to April and May in years past, in the hopes of taking advantage of less competition.
One key driver of the healthy demand in our residential market is the hiring activities at a number of Maine based companies. For example, many of our buyers are coming from new hires at WEX, Covetrus, Idexx, Tilson and Tyler Technologies, along with the traditional hiring from Maine Medical Center. These organizations are attracting talent from both within and outside the state and the region. Part of our job is showing these potential new Maine residents the advantages of living in Maine. Essentially, we are serving as ambassadors for the state, a role we are proud to embrace. Maine has a strong lifestyle brand and reputation appealing to a wide variety of different demographic groups.
I meet with people every day who are looking to move to Maine. When I ask what is bringing them to this area, the response I most often hear is…lifestyle. The traditional draws are the iconic Maine trails, mountains, rivers, and coastline; but over the past few years, the food and beverage scene has become a strong economic driver for southern Maine and cities up and down the coast.
The biggest challenge that I see going forward is affordability – both with new construction development and work force housing. Certainly, Maine offers more affordable and manageable opportunities than our larger feeder markets in Boston and New York. However, the significant increase in construction costs (from both
a severe skilled labor shortage and a rising cost in materials) is starting to impact new construction options.
It is also impacting the effort to preserve, let alone, meet the increasing demand for affordable work force housing. In order to sustain the golden goose of the food and craft brewery economic drivers for the area, we need to ensure affordable housing for the people serving in these fields. The real challenge in addressing the affordable housing need is doing it in a strategic and effective way that encourages the private sector to have
a voice in the solution.”