The Maine Association of REALTORS reports healthy gains in sales of single-family existing homes and median sales prices statewide during April 2012. According to the Maine Real Estate Information System, Inc., 824 homes sold during April 2012, an increase of 8.71 percent compared with April 2011. The median sales price (MSP) for those homes rose 4.48 percent to $167,950 in that same time period. The MSP indicates that half of the homes were sold for more and half sold for less.
Nationally, sales increased 9.9 percent in the past 12 months. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the national MSP also rose 10.4 percent to $178,000 in April. In the regional Northeast, sales increased by 19.2 percent. The regional MSP increased 8.8 percent to $256,600.
As a home builder and real estate broker, obviously this is very encouraging news, but there are many other encouraging things happening in Maine and nationwide that are worth mentioning.
Interest Rates: Mortgage rates have been very attractive for an extended period of time and knowing that they will most likely increase helps spur on new sales.
Builder confidence: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index measuring builder confidence reached a five-year high point in June, hitting 29 for the first time since May 2007, according to data released today by NAHB. Month-to-month, the composite index score rose from a downwardly revised May 2012 score of 28.
The composite index score is based on a monthly survey that assesses builder perceptions in three areas: current single-family home sales; sales expectations for the next six months; and traffic of prospective buyers. The ratings for each category are then tabulated into the final composite score.
For June, builder confidence in current sales rose two points to 32, its best score since April 2007. The scores for future expectations and prospective buyers held steady from May’s tallies of 34 and 23 respectively.
Jobs in Maine: Forbes Magazine ranked the Greater Portland area #6 in the country as Best City for Jobs This Summer with a predicted payroll growth rate of 19%. Travel and Leisure ranked Portland Maine # 1 in categories of “Best Place to go in Summer”, “Best 4th of July”, “Best Base for Day Trips”, “Best for Safety” and “Best Driving Ability”. It was only ranked # 32 in “Diversity”, which frankly is a big surprise, as Portland resembles any city with its rich ethnicity and # 31 for “Best City for Spring Break” and the United States Peace Index has ranked Maine # 1 as “Most Peaceful State” based on The five criteria used in the ranking are the number of homicides per 100,000 people; number of violent crimes; incarceration rate; number of police employees; and availability of small arms.
So what does this all mean? Given what pretty much all of us have experienced in the recession, it’s only natural not to get too excited and to be cautious. There are many lessons to be learned during tough times such as living within your means, realizing that less is actually “more” and not keeping up with the Joneses is ok. These lessons are reflective in the homes that we build with scaled down floor plans that don’t sacrifice luxurious amenities. Soaking tubs are being replaced with steam showers, formal dining rooms are now the family or great room. The kitchen is still the heart of the home where not only meals are shared, but homework is done and bills are paid.
Home should reflect our values and what is most important and meaningful. It’s why home really is where you hang your heart.