With 2020 happily in our rear view mirror, now is the perfect time to take a minute to reflect. In a year of unexpected challenges, there were also some surprising trends that emerged in the real estate market as a result.
The real estate market grinded almost to a full stop as businesses shut down in mid-March and people were under stay-at-home orders. Spring brought a welcome relief of longer days, warmer temperatures and the ability to enjoy the outdoors. Second home buyers started to see real benefits to having a place to escape to. By early summer, inquiries and property showing requests were steadily increasing, as were offers. Multiple offers and offers above asking price started to be more common. Average days on the market decreased, too, and so did inventory. Many buyers started looking on the outskirts of the hubs of our area, further away from both Sunday River and Bethel Village.
2020 vs. 2019
Let’s compare the statistics from 2019 to 2020. It is worth noting that the median sale price for area condominiums increased a whopping 20.6%, from $170,000 in 2019 to $205,000 in 2020. Nowhere was that more evident than in the slopeside condominium market: sale price percentage increase exceeded 20%! The median sale price of homes also increased by 10.4% compared to 2019.
With fewer homes and condominiums for sale, buyers started looking at land options in hopes of building their vacation retreat. 66 lots sold in 2020, compared to the 47 lots that sold in 2019.
With all of the changes that we saw in 2020, what can we expect for 2021? It seems that many employers have seen a lot of benefits with having employees working remotely. Many will likely allow, and even encourage, employees to work from home at least part-time. This provides an opportunity for buyers to enjoy a vacation home even more frequently. Incredibly low interest rates are also fueling the current real estate market, as buyers look at how best to invest their money. The pandemic prompted many people to slow down and rethink how they wanted to live their life, and many are putting a premium on creating lifelong family memories as a high priority. This generates another driving force for purchasing a second home, and I expect that trend will continue.
Working as a real estate agent in a second home market can sometimes have its challenges. It can be tricky to show newly listed, hot properties quickly when people live hours away. And coordinating closings and walk-throughs during the pandemic takes some planning. COVID-19 brought some changes that I think will likely stick: buyers initially viewing properties virtually, as well as remote closings and virtual walk-throughs. I have found that the key is flexibility and creativity.
If you are thinking about making the Sunday River area your home away from home in 2021, give our office a call and speak with one of our experienced agents. We will help you navigate the current market and find your Happy Place!
Statistical information provided by Maine Real Estate Information Systems.