Don’t Get Too Excited!

 Posted by at 7:53 am
May 272012

While it is not my desire to squash optimism, the recent sale of rose-colored glasses deserves some pause. If you have property listed in Piscataquis County I would not suggest you start planning how to spend the proceeds from your sale.

The latest press release from the Maine Real Estate Information System headlined the fact that sales and median sales price both were up in April (8.7% and 4.5% respectively). However, the numbers for Piscataquis County tell a slightly different story. County numbers are always reported on a three month “rolling average”–so the statistics I’m about to share are for February 1 through April 30. We’re comparing this year (2012) with last (2011). By the way, it’s important to remember that last year was not exactly a stellar year for the state or the county.

For the period noted, unit sales in Piscataquis County were actually down by 12.5% and the median price dropped a whopping 17.8%. Our county is a long way from “economic recovery” in just about every sense of the word.

To get a better sense of the market, consider the County Seat, Dover Foxcroft. (For those unfamilar with the area, our county is geographically large and very rural. The population of Dover Foxcroft is slight above 4,000.) There are (using MREIS data) currently 112 residential properties listed for sale in Dover Foxcroft. For the past six months, 18 have sold–an average of three per month.

A generally accepted real estate measure is “days on market” or “DOM.” Basically, this is a measure of how long it takes property to sell. You do not have to be a math whiz to see that with 112 properties for sale and sales rate of three per month, it will take… slightly over three years for all these listings to sell.

Now there are a lot of things “wrong” with this analysis–the largest being that it’s based on totals and really needs to be broken down either by price or location. The other observation that needs to be made is this area has always had a longer DOM that many others. If you are in the market in any way (selling or buying) further analysis is recommended, but it’s probably safe to say this is not a hotbed of real estate activity.

Markets with high inventory, low median price, and slow sales rates are often thought of as a “buyer’s market.” So while there’s plenty to choose from and prices are low (the median price for the rolling quarter is currently $60,000) it might a good time to buy. Again, further analysis of your individual situation is warranted.

(For those who are curious, one reason for the state-wide increase was a 20% increase in unit sales in York County. However, the median price of those sales did drop slightly.)