Maine's Hottest Towns 2018
Maine’s Hottest Towns of 2018: Real Estate Matters
Scarborough, ME—January 29, 2019
Ten years after the housing crisis, many experts are predicting that the market has peaked and beginning to lose steam. Against that backdrop, we once again examine the past year in Maine real estate activity, looking for which towns saw increased sales, which saw decreased sales, and what sales prices looked like across the board.
This year’s annual list of the Hottest Towns in Maine provides a look back at what happened and where in terms of the real estate market. To find the winners, we gather data from the multiple listing service (operated by Maine Real Estate Information Services, Inc.) to calculate which Maine municipalities had the largest increases in the number of home and condo sales in 2018. We then compare these to 2017 numbers.
Once again, this year’s list includes a mix of municipalities from throughout the state but there are several surprises. Read on!
Now, to Maine’s Hottest Towns of 2018…
Back on our list after missing it last year, Saco climbed back with 341 sales (a 3.65% increase over last year) and a median sale price of $278,500, an 8.58% increase. This community, located 20 miles south of Portland, represents a more affordable alternative to Maine’s largest city, while still offering proximity to beaches, entertainment, restaurants and shopping.
The southernmost town on our list this year is Sanford, which is the 6th largest municipality in the state. In 2018, the year of its 250th anniversary, home sales increased modestly, with a total of 336—3.7% more than the previous year. The median sales price grew to $176,805, or 7.15% over 2017. Sanford citizens are conservation-minded. With active citizens, land trusts and other partners, their conservation plan seeks to protect natural areas and enhance livability through outdoor experiences and an extensive and scenic trail system.
A newcomer to our list this year, Yarmouth comes in at #7 with 146 sales, a 4.29% increase over last year. Prices rose very slightly (1.35%) to a median price of $450,000. Located 12 miles north of Portland, Yarmouth has a rich industrial history surrounding the Royal River and the four waterfalls that supported cotton, paper, shoes, bricks, and electricity among others. Today, Yarmouth attracts residents because of its coastal location on Casco Bay and quaint downtown that is home to North Yarmouth Academy, shops and restaurants and, every July, the popular Yarmouth Clam Festival.
Situated between Portland/Falmouth and Sebago Lake, Windham landed on our list this year with a 4.32% increase in number of sales (just edging out Yarmouth), and an 8.81% increase in median sale price over last year. The average median sale price of $243,500 is among the highest in the Top 10.
Gorham is best known as the home of the largest campus of the University of Southern Maine. It is a town of about 16,000 and is home to about 10 smaller villages, such as Dog Corner and Little Falls. It was also the home of Percival Baxter, Maine’s 53rd governor. Gorham has been on the Hottest Towns list for three years in a row, with this year’s increase in number of sales at 6.79%--twice the increase experienced last year. The spike in median price seen in 2016 has cooled, however. It’s holding fairly steady at $299,633, which is only a 1.14% increase over the previous year.
Last year’s Hottest Towns winner, Waterville experienced an almost 30% jump in the number of homes sold from 2016 to 2017. Prior to that it didn’t even make the top 20. Sales and prices continued to climb in 2018, albeit at a slower rate. A total 176 sales represented a 10.69% increase over last year, and the median price increased 7.53% to $119,900. Nestled on the banks of the heroic and historic Kennebec River, Waterville is undergoing a downtown renaissance with new hotels, galleries and restaurants coming in. Home to Colby College and Thomas College and an international film festival, Waterville is a regional cultural center, led by Colby College, home to the largest college art museum in America.
Home to Bowdoin College and Senator Angus King, Brunswick is back on our list after missing it last year. After dropping over 19% between 2016 and 2017, this mid-coast town rebounded with a 12.45% increase in 2018 over the previous year. Its 289 sales also saw a slight increase in median sale price, jumping from $257,000 to $265,000.
Not only is Biddeford new to our list this year, but also—with the exception of Auburn—Biddeford is the only town in the Top 10 to see a significant jump in number of sales as well as median sales price. In 2018, Biddeford saw 257 homes sell (a 14.22% increase over 2017) at a median price of $253,733 (9.19% more than the previous year). Biddeford’s downtown is hopping, and apartments, shops, craft breweries and restaurants inhabit renovated spaces such as the Pepperell Mill. The University of New England, as well as beaches like Biddeford Pool and Goose Rocks, are consistently appealing.
Coming in at #2, Auburn posted an impressive 14.96% increase in number of sales, as well as a 12.97% gain in median price over last year. (Its twin city, Lewiston, is notably absent on this year’s list after appearing for two straight years and making #6 last year.) Auburn, along with Lewiston, has experienced a downtown renaissance in recent years, precipitated in large part by an increased interest in the Androscoggin River as a scenic and recreational asset.
Coming in at #4 two years ago only to drop off the list completely last year, Standish surged forward in 2018 to claim the top spot. This town of 10,000 on the banks of Sebago Lake posted an impressive 17.47% increase in number of sales (with a total of 195), while holding the median price at $233,633 (just a 1.47% increase over last year). Standish was settled in 1752 and has become a desirable suburb of Portland. It is located along the southern shore of Sebago Lake and is home to Saint Joseph’s College.