In this Monday, Jan. 8, 2018 photo, a for sale sign hangs in front of an existing home in Walpole, Massachusetts. The National Association of Realtors on Jan. 21 reported the median sales price nationally rose 5.7 percent over last January. Maine Listings said the median sales price for single-family homes in Penobscot County rose 12 percent from Nov. 1, 2017 through Jan. 31, 2018. Credit: Steven Senne | AP

Tight inventory, an improved economy and still low interest rates created a hot market for real estate in Penobscot County from last November through this January.

Penobscot County’s figures were higher than the statewide average and one of three counties that saw double-digit jumps in median sales prices.

The median sales price for existing single-family homes in the county was $140,000, up 12 percent from the $125,000 last year, according to a Feb. 21 Maine Listings report. The median sales price indicates half of the homes sold for more and half for less.

The number of homes sold during the three months was up 4.55 percent from 330 to 345 houses.

“If someone is looking to sell a house, now is the time,” said Angelia Levesque, sales director for the Bangor office of Better Homes and Gardens The Masiello Group. “The more houses come on the market now, the more we will sell.”

She said there are only 78 homes for sale in Bangor now.

“That’s a pretty low number,” she said.

The median sales price in Cumberland County rose 11.5 percent to $289,000 over the three months. Piscataquis County had the sharpest rise at 25 percent fo $118,750.

Levesque said today’s market is much different than a few years ago, when consumers might buy a television but hesitated to buy real estate because they weren’t sure they’d have a job in three months.

“People now understand they have a job so they want to invest in housing,” she said. “The economy is better and while loan interest rates are up, they’re still low.”

Buyers also are eager for more inventory to go on sale, which typically happens in the spring, said Kim Gleason, president of the Maine Association of Realtors. She’s also the owner of McAllister Real Estate in Hallowell.

“The January 2018 for-sale inventory is 17 percent below January 2017 due to a strong winter selling season,” she said. “Realtors are reporting that multiple offer situations are common in areas that are at full employment.” She said buyers are more cautious in rural Maine, but there are deals to be had.

Nationally, sales fell 4.8 percent between last January and this January, according to the National Association of Realtors. However, the median sales price rose 5.7 percent year-to-year to $241,700.

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