A real estate for sale sign sits outside 65 George St. in South Portland on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. South Portland now ranks in the top 10 most competitive U.S. cities in which to buy a house. Credit: Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Sales of existing single-family homes in Maine hit historic levels in 2020 in both the number sold and median price, according to Maine Association of Realtors data released Friday.

Sales for the year were up by nearly 10 percent compared to 2019 at 19,921 homes. Values rose almost 14 percent to a median sales price of $256,000. The median sales price indicates that half of the homes were sold for more and half sold for less.

The numbers were the highest since the organization began compiling data more than 20 years ago, said Aaron Bolster, the association’s president. December sales were up almost 32 percent compared to the same month in 2019 and the median sales price rose more than 15 percent. Demand should remain strong this year, Bolster said.

“Last year began with the positive momentum from 2019 and then was jolted in the second quarter by the arrival of COVID-19,” Bolster said. “Since July, sales demand and volume has been exceptionally strong.”

Aroostook, Washington, Waldo, Somerset, Piscataquis, Knox and Hancock counties all saw unit sales rise by more than 20 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. Oxford, Lincoln, Hancock, Waldo and Franklin counties all saw sales prices rise more than 20 percent for the full year.

Nationally, December 2020 sales of single-family existing homes jumped 22.8 percent over December 2019, according to the National Association of Realtors. Prices also rose in December, up 13.5 percent to $314,300. Sales in the Northeast climbed 27.4 percent and the regional median sales price was up 19 percent to $362,100 in comparable Decembers.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said that while mortgage rates are projected to increase, they will continue to hover near record lows at around 3 percent. He also expects the economy to improve with a potential new stimulus and COVID-19 vaccine distribution underway.