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Markets in Greater Portland on the Rebound

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By Kate Hodgson

Portland Head LightI have compiled the information in this report to help my clients stay informed about market trends and to help them make critical decisions while navigating the Greater Portland real estate market.  Data are gathered from records on the Maine Real Estate Information Service (MREIS) also known as the multiple listing service (MLS).  The report presents information from 1998 forward as records prior to that are less reliable

The information is consolidated into 4 categories based on market trends: 1. Portland and South Portland single family homes; 2. Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Scarborough and Yarmouth single family homes and condos; 3. Gorham, Gray, Westbrook and Windham single family homes and condos; and 4. Portland and South Portland condos.

Please note: for simplicity I will refer to the first quarter as Q1 and so on.

General trends in Q1 2012:

The big story of 2012 so far is the lack of inventory.  Sales are up and inventory is down but an increase in prices has not yet followed because of the continuing impact of distress sales on the market.

 

Interest rates are still low but leaning upwards and investors are trawling for opportunities with the increased confidence that a market recovery is underway.

 

Some areas of the country are reporting a shift to a sellers’ market.  Portland and South Portland show signs of moving in that direction and the ripple effect will start to show in the outlying areas.  Additionally, colleagues have been reporting on an increase in multiple offers.

There is still a high level of distressed property on the market keeping a price increase at bay but that will change if current trends continue.

The notable exception to this trend is the condo market where sales have slumped.

1. Sales:

Sales have increased in all the areas observed.

In Portland and South Portland the number of single family homes sold in Q1 rose to 112, up from 98 in 2011.

In Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Scarborough, and Yarmouth, the number of properties sold in Q1 climbed to 132 up from 105 last year and the highest level since 2007.

In Gorham, Gray, Westbrook and Windham, the number of properties sold stayed fairly close to the level in 2011 at 119 units sold.

 

 

2. Inventory:

While sales have gone up, inventory has gone down; creating the best ratio between the two that we have seen in 5 years or more.

In Portland and South Portland the ratio dropped to 1.73 new listings for every property sold, down from 2.04 in 2011, and almost matching the 15 year average.

In Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Scarborough and Yarmouth there were 1.91 new listings for every property sold, down substantially from 2.41 in Q1 2011, below the 15 year average, and the best ratio since 2005.

In Gorham, Gray, Westbrook, and Windham the ratio was 2.14 new listings for every property sold in Q1 2012, down from 2.28 last year but above the 15 year average.

 

 

3. Prices:

Sales are up, inventory is down, but an increase in prices has not yet followed.

In Portland and South Portland the average sale price declined 7% from the previous year.

In Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Scarborough and Yarmouth the average sale price remained largely unchanged.

In Gorham, Gray, Westbrook and Windham the average sale price also remained unchanged from last year.

Foreclosures and short sales are still keeping prices from gaining traction.  Many pundits have predicted an increase in prices by the end of this year or into 2013.

4. Days on Market (DOM):

The number of days it is taking a property to sell has remained high, again a reflection of the number of short sales on the market and the length of time they take to work through the system.

For example, of the 34 properties identified as distressed sales that sold in the first quarter of 2012 (9% of the market), the average Days on Market was 155, significantly higher than the average for all other sales at 115.  It is also worth noting that distress sales sold for an average of 89% of the list price at time of sale, 84% of the original list price.

Condos (Portland and South Portland):

The condo market in greater Portland. .bucking all the favorable trends: sales are down, inventory is up, and the average sales price continues to swing rather dramatically.

 

In Q1 2012 the number of sales dropped slightly from 51 in Q1 2011 to 45 in Q1 2012 and the number of new listings rose slightly from 114 to 119.  The average sale price slumped from $259,040 to $199,652, down 30% from Q1 of last year.

 

As of April 8, 2012 there are 216 condos currently on the market in Portland and South Portland with 48 under contract, or 22% of inventory.

Multi-units (2-4 unit properties in Portland, South Portland, Westbrook):

Multi-units are following the favorable trend with a big drop in new listings, an increase in sales, and very low inventory.  There were 40 new listings in Q1 2012, down significantly from 67 in Q1 2011 and the lowest number in the last 15 years. The number of sales increased from 20 in Q1 2011 to 37 in Q1 in 2012.  This brought the ratio of new listings to units sold down to 1.08.

 

The average sale price increased 4% and the average price reduction was 95% of the list price at time of sale. The average Days on Market was 93.

As of April 8, 2012 there are 84 2-4 unit properties on the market in Portland, South Portland, and Westbrook, with 23 of those under contract, or 27% of current inventory.


Greater Portland 2011 Year in Review

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By Kate Hodgson
So how did we fare in 2011? And where are we going in 2012?

The Greater Portland real estate market recorded the lowest number of sales in over 14 years in 2011. But the news is not all bad. The market continues to stabilize and as sales have declined so too has inventory. The ratio of new listings to properties sold has steadily decreased to 1.85 since a peak of 2.10 in 2008.  Despite the sluggish sales, 2011 ended in a strong position with noticeable improvement in the fourth quarter both locally and nationally.

The Greater Portland market saw an 8% increase in the number of single family homes and Portland condos sold in the fourth quarter from the same quarter last year.

This reflected the positive news being reported nationally.  According to a WSJ online 12/21/11 report, residential construction “surged in November, pushing housing starts to… the highest level in 19 months”. Additionally, the National Association of Realtors, reported that existing home sales rose in November.

As for 2012, the predictions swing in every direction.

Nationally:

Franklin American, in their electronic newsletter, summed up the outlook for 2012:

The New Year is here. Of course, now we are inundated with predictions regarding what will happen in the coming year. If you read 100 predictions, you would get 100 different scenarios. For example, in October Fannie Mae predicted that rates on home loans would fall in the first half of next year, while Freddie Mac forecasted an increase in rates. In addition, Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan rated the chance of a recession at 40% next year while Freddie Mac predicts that economic growth will likely strengthen to about 2.5% in 2012. More recently, a survey of 20 top economists conducted by CNN/Money predicted the risk of a recession next year at only 20% next year. This survey expected the fourth quarter growth rate to be the strongest of the year with over a 3.0% growth rate, but grow to slow to an annual rate of 2.4% next year.

 

Slow growth next year but no new recession? Sounds like a replay of this year. Our advice? Don’t get lost in predictions. Most of the time they are a reflection of what already has happened. Right now we have very positive trends with increased consumer confidence confirmed by the Conference Board’s survey released last week… The real question is, will these trends continue into next year or do we fall back into our ‘starts and stops’ pattern of economic recovery? If you want a clue to that question, watch the employment trends.

 

Rising rents are forcing renters to outspend home owners on housing costs, according to a recent study. Since 2005, home owners’ housing expenses have climbed from 31.9 percent of their household budget to 33.2 percent. On the other hand, in that same time period, renters’ expenses have jumped from 35.6 percent to 38.4 percent, according to the October CoreLogic U.S. Housing Trends.  Source: RISMedia

 

The Greater Portland market:

Last year, Housingpredictor.com, an independent real estate news website, touted Portland as one of the top 3 markets for growth nationwide. Sadly, it doesn’t even make the top 25 this year. Their reasons:

“Extraordinarily sluggish home sales and slowly declining home prices are preventing Maine housing markets from making a full-fledged recovery, but cities and towns throughout the state are hardly experiencing a major drop in home values either.

Maine is turning out to be one of the safest bets so far in the fallout of the U.S. real estate collapse. A slim volume of sales is hand-cuffing the markets and are expected to chill the region’s home sales at a slow pace through 2012.

National headlines over the foreclosure crisis and falling home values have hurt Maine housing markets more than anything else. Housing sales in most of the state have been sluggish but have remained consistent through the U.S. downturn – just not many sales compared to most other regions of the country. Less than 1,000 homes sell in an average month statewide.

While sales move at a snails pace, the number of homes being sold monthly are creeping up as prices decline only marginally. However, home sales are projected to increase in Portland as new home buyers take advantage of record low mortgage interest rates. The influx of retirees to the region is also helping to boost the market. But home values are forecast to drop slight during the year averaging 2.6% less.”

On the other hand, CNN Money, which tracks 384 markets throughout the US, predicts a 4.5% increase in home prices for the Greater Portland market.

My own opinion is that 2012 will be much like 2011. Sales will continue to be sluggish until the end of the year. Distress sales will keep prices from gaining real traction although I predict they will appreciate slightly as buyers seize the opportunity of low interest rates and sense an end to the bottom of the market. Low interest rates will continue to fuel buyer interest although mortgages will remain bridled by strict lending practices.

Unless we hit a snag (i.e. consumer confidence lags, employment rate stalls, or we experience an environmental disaster), 2012 will remain slow but steady. However, with continued stabilization, we will start to see appreciable change in late 2012 or 2013.


Chandlers Wharf – Condo Complex in Portland ME

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Chandlers Wharf CondosPortland’s Chandlers Wharf condominiums offer a rare opportunity to live downtown directly on the waterfront and feature excellent views of Casco Bay. Units are approximately 1750 sq ft laid out in a ranch or townhouse style floor plan. Chandlers Wharf condos feature modern amenities in the charming Old Port area of Portland.  Portland Condos at Chandlers Wharf range price from 300K – 900K, with a median price of $429K.

The convenient location in downtown Portland is within walking distance of all key points in the city, including some of the area’s finest restaurants. The complex offers shared parking for cars – to learn about the specific features and regulations at Chandlers Wharf, and more condo associations in downtown Portland ME contact John Herrigel directly at 207.650.5383 or by email at herrigelgroup@gmail.com


Portland ME Condo Update for December

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Christmas Wreath13 condos sold in the Portland Maine housing market during November 2011. This was the same number as last year at this time. At an average price of 215K, condos in Portland appreciated year over year by 40%. The average number of days on the market for condos that sold in November in Portland was 41 – about half the number of days for houses sold during the same time period.

To see the historical charm of West End neighborhood in Portland, check out the Victoria Mansion Deck the Halls holiday tour until Jan. 8th in Portland for a fun and educational look at Victorian era life and Christmas festivities.

For more information on Portland Maine condos for sale, and living in southern Maine, visit the Herrigel group at myMaineProperty.com – we specialize in Portland Maine homes and condos for sale. For the fastest response contact John Herrigel directly by phone at 207-650-5383 or by email at johnherrigel@gmail.com


Chestnut Lofts Condo Complex in Portland ME

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Chestnut Street LoftsChestnut Lofts units feature stylish open concept interior, a rarity in Portland. Each unit has concrete floors, and is customized by owner to include half walls and partitions. Located in Downtown Portland this convenient location is within walking distance of all key points in the city, and it even includes on-site parking. Chestnut Lofts units range in size and price, from the 200’s to 500K.

Chestnut Lofts condos offer a variety of options for your downtown Portland ME home. To learn about the specific features and regulations of condos at Chestnut Lofts, and more condo associations in downtown Portland ME visit the Herrigel Group – mymaineproperty.com today, or contact John Herrigel directly at 207.650.5383 or by email: herrigelgroup@gmail.com


Portland Maine Condo Market Update – December 2011

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Conod ComplexCurrently the condo market in Portland Maine has 114 condos currently listed for sale and offered at a median price point of $215,000.  Overall the condo market in Portland continues to improve with multiple  To Be Built luxury Portland condos slated to come on the market in the near future. The baby boomer population continues to propel this market segment forward as with a great downtown within walking distance from  most neighborhood such as the West End or East End parties looking to relocate to Maine can have restaurants, culture and more  at fraction of the cost of similar cities in America.

As of today.. 179 condos have sold in Portland in 2011 at a median sold price point of 217K.  With sold prices matching asking prices.. the market remains very stable and if a condo is priced right it is selling with a few weeks. However, if a property is over priced.. it is not uncommon for it to sit on the market for an extended period of time whilst seeing little buyer interest.

Going forward expect this market segment to improve given the small supply and strong demand for condos in Portland Maine.

Thanks for reading and please reach out anytime for more information on the current housing market.