Portland isn’t the only place out-of-staters are buying pricey homes

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Portland is seeing several new out-of-state buyers. But Bangor is seeing a bigger share.

Maine’s long history with temporary properties makes it likely many buyers will use their new properties as seasonal residences. Though listing another address could simply mean retaining possession of a previous home, the market’s large share of people from away is affecting house-buying prospects for Mainers who want to stay here.

In Bangor, 5 out of 19 residential properties (26 percent) that sold for $250,000 or more were bought by people who listed their after-sale mailing address outside of Maine in May. That percentage was actually higher than in Portland, where 9 out of 61 (15 percent) of such properties that sold had an out-of-state address listed.

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The numbers showcase not just the continued desire for people outside of Maine to relocate to the state or get second homes there, but also the strong role such purchases play in driving demand and then prices.

Many purchasing homes now are first-time buyers looking to relocate, said real estate agent Kathryn Townsend of Cape Elizabeth-based Townsend Real Estate. She said most out-of-state residents who buy Maine homes seemed to be prepared to stay here full-time, though she had worked with some who were purchasing summer homes.

Cape Elizabeth, one of Maine’s wealthiest communities and among the places where housing has been tight, saw four out of 13 of properties sold to residents with out-of-state addresses last month.

With Maine having a median household income below the national average, most buyers are coming from states where the typical person has far more wealth and resources, including the ability to win a bidding war or pay upfront in cash.

For example, Maine’s median household income was $59,500 as of the 2020 American Community Survey, with 26 percent of households making over $100,000 a year. Massachusetts, which was home to the largest chunk by far of out-of-state buyers for the communities examined, has a median household income of $84,400, with 43 percent of households making over $100,000 a year.

Though that difference is less wide in the parts of southern Maine where the housing affordability crisis is the worst, the average Massachusetts resident is still richer than the average person in both Cumberland and York counties.

But out-of-state buyers came from a variety of other states. Separate people who listed their address in Colorado bought properties in Bangor (a $410,000 home), Biddeford ($355,000) and Portland ($450,000) in May. Other addresses listed on sales this year in the communities examined included California, Hawaii, Missouri, Nevada, Texas, Virginia and Washington, along with every New England state except Vermont.

The address listed for buyers who bought a $251,000 three-bedroom property on Pearl Street in Bangor was in the Florida Keys community of Tavernier.

The connection these buyers have to Maine varies significantly, ranging from none to having grown up there before moving elsewhere in the U.S.

The records showcase that out-of-state buyers are not looking exclusively at the properties in the Portland Metro area. One of the two residential properties that sold for $250,000 or more in Presque Isle last month was bought by two people who listed their address as being in Abingdon, Virginia.

Still, some regions are seeing a higher percentage of sales to existing Maine residents than others. All five of the residential properties valued at $250,000 or higher in Poland were bought by those who listed a Maine address last month.

Kennebunkport, long a popular summer home destination for wealthy residents, saw five out of six residential properties worth $250,000 or more bought by out-of-state residents in May. That’s a slight increase from the number in May 2019, almost a year before the COVID-19 pandemic would fundamentally change Maine’s housing market.

The number of out-of-state purchases in Biddeford actually went down this year compared with pre-pandemic: they made up 41 percent (9 of 22) of sales in May 2019, but 20 percent (4 out of 20) in May 2022.

Long a place that has been desirable for Mainers and non-Mainers alike to relocate or buy a vacation home, Townsend said Cape Elizabeth’s real estate market finally seemed to be slowing down.

“It’s definitely cooling off. Less buyers, most likely due to the interest rate hike,” she said. “This is typically our busiest time of year.”