A home for sale in Bangor, Maine, on Nov. 24, 2020. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Sales of existing single-family homes in the state remained high in January after a record year in 2020, with sales volumes and prices outpacing those of a year ago, the Maine Association of Realtors said Friday.

Sales statewide rose more than 18 percent compared to January 2020 and the median sales price was up more than 15 percent to $255,300. The price means that half of the homes sold for more and half for less.

Buyer demand is still strong, but one possible damper on this year is the historically low number of homes for sale, Aaron Bolster, president of the association, said.

“Buyers are facing far fewer available home choices and sellers are reluctant to list their properties without their next move-in property in place,” he said.

Rural Maine counties fared particularly well in sales and prices from November 2020 through January of 2021 compared to those three months the previous year. Five counties had more than a 50 percent increase in unit sales, with Piscataquis County leading, up 82 percent to 122 homes sold.

By median sales price, nine counties saw rises of more than 20 percent with Lincoln County leading, up 47 percent to $334,500.

Cumberland County saw a slightly more than 9 percent rise in unit sales to 1,016 over the three month comparison period, while Penobscot County saw a 19 percent rise to 461 units. The median sales price in Cumberland County was up almost 15 percent to $373,250, while that in Penobscot County rose a little more than 11 percent to $172,450.

The market strength in Maine reflects national sales. The National Association of Realtors also on Friday reported a 23 percent rise in sales of existing single-family homes in January and an almost 15 percent rise in the median sales price. Regionally, sales in the Northeast increased 24.3 percent and the median sales price was up 15.8 percent to $361,400.

Available homes for sale also were scarce nationally. Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors, said “buyers quickly snatched up virtually every new listing coming on the market” and sales could have been 20 percent higher if there had been more inventory and choices.