The Maine towns where home prices are starting to drop
By Zara Norman, Bangor Daily News Staff
Property values declined last year in many rural Maine towns and some surprising ones, including Cape Elizabeth and Carrabassett Valley, according to housing data from Zillow.
Real estate agents in Cape Elizabeth, the Sugarloaf region and central Maine said that though they aren’t seeing a noticeable decline in property values in their areas, the declines might be a partial result of a lack of available homes right now.
It’s a seller’s market, and desirable, well-priced units are going quickly around Maine. Some units online right now are too expensive and have to take down their prices. Others that need a lot of work done on them are sitting on the market and depreciating in value, agents said.
“Some things are sitting for longer than they would have, and most of those, I would say, are clearly overpriced or need work, preventing buyers from taking the plunge, because it still is hard to get people in to do the work,” said Mary Libby, who owns an eponymous real estate agency based in Cape Elizabeth.
Libby hasn’t seen a “huge” decline in Cape Elizabeth property values, where there’s a “frustrating” shortage of inventory right now. Zillow had property values there at a 3 percent decline from June to December of last year. The average home price in Cape Elizabeth is around $778,000. That is up 32 percent since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Libby said she’ll be interested to see how coastal flooding, like we saw this month, will affect property values in the Cape and other coastal communities in the next few years.
“The Cape has always been a desirable area, but I think we’re going to have to watch what’s going on with the climate,” Libby said. “I get calls from clients who are on the water saying, ‘What should we do?’”
Property values were also slightly down last year in another desirable area of Maine, Carrabassett Valley, which is home to Sugarloaf, one of the largest ski areas in the region. It saw values decline 2.3 percent from June to December, according to Zillow.
The average home price in Carrabassett Valley right now is around $543,000, down just under 5 percent from this time last year, according to Zillow.
Jeff Kennedy, the designated broker of Mountainside Real Estate in Carrabassett Valley, said that his agency saw a 2 percent increase in area home prices last year. Sales for larger, more expensive properties have “certainly slowed down,” he said.
“When things are priced right, they’re still selling,” Kennedy said. “There are worse properties, particularly some of the older camps and things like that, in the area that were overpriced. We’re seeing the prices go back.”
Some more coastal regions in Maine that saw decreased property values from June to December last year include Brooklin, Brooksville and East Machias. But many rural, inland Maine towns also saw declines.
The largest was a 3.6 percent decline in the Franklin County town of Phillips, where average home values are less than $180,000. Guilford’s homes are $30,000 cheaper, and the town saw a 3 percent decline. Prices also dropped in the rural towns of Unity and Chesterville.
“If any property comes on that is actually priced correctly, then they still get an interest. It just might take several weeks rather than a weekend, but I don’t see the property values going down,” said Ian Morphew of the American Realty Group based in Unity. “I’ve seen a few more properties come up which have needed work, and that’s possibly where you’re seeing a decrease in values.”