An "I'm Taken" placard rests on a real estate for sale sign outside a home, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in Manchester, N.H. Credit: Charles Krupa / AP

Few homes for sale coupled with high demand from out-of-state buyers boosted home sales in Maine in November compared to the previous year and put them on pace for a record year, according to data released by the Maine Association of Realtors on Tuesday.

Existing home sales, at 1,965, were up 31 percent over last November, but down from the 2,341 units sold in October. The median sales price, an indicator of half the homes selling for more and half for less, was $270,000 in November, up 20 percent over the previous year but down slightly from $280,000 in October.

Maine’s numbers mirrored national trends during the coronavirus pandemic, which saw yearly gains but an end to the five-month streak of monthly gains, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Real estate agents are reporting multiple offers on move-in ready listings across the state, said Tom Cole, the president of the Maine association. Sales so far this year are up 7.9 percent compared to January through November of last year. That would make 2020 Maine’s best year of sales.

Out-of-staters continue to be hot buyers, making up one-third of November’s sales compared to one-fourth during November 2019.

“Maine’s reputation as a safe place is fueling interest” during the pandemic, Cole said.

Unit sales skyrocketed more than 50 percent in rural areas including Aroostook, Hancock, Knox, Piscataquis and Washington counties from September to November of this year versus the same three months last year. The highest price increase was in Lincoln County, up 60 percent.

Cumberland County saw a 22 percent rise in unit sales to 1,333 and a nearly 17 percent rise in median sales price at $385,000 over the three-month comparison period. Penobscot County saw unit sales rise almost 9 percent to 579 and the median sales price up almost 19 percent to $179,100.

While home sales in November nationwide took a marginal step back, sales for the full year already are on pace to surpass last year’s sales, said Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

“Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s amazing that the housing sector is outperforming expectations,” he said.

Yun warned that job recoveries have stalled in the past few months and fast-rising coronavirus cases have weakened consumer confidence, saying circumstances are far from being back to the pre-pandemic normal. But the latest stimulus package, ongoing vaccine distribution and continuing strong demand for homeownership portend robust growth for 2021, he said.