By Erinne Magee

It’s no secret that the pandemic has caused chaos in the real estate market. Housing prices have skyrocketed, supply cannot keep up and an influx of new Mainers have all been trending over the past couple of years. 

Local experts are expecting much of the same in 2022. We spoke to Hilary Gotlieb, Realtor at NextHome Experience, and Ashlee Simpson Black, Broker at Realty of Maine, to help break down the trends so buyers and sellers can have a good idea of what to expect this year.

The Inventory Game

According to Gotlieb, local inventory is not meeting demands, which is part of the reason that home prices have gone up so much over the last year. Simply, there are more pre-approved buyers that want to purchase a home than there are homes available. Buyers are willing to spend more and many listed homes receive multiple offers and sell for above the asking price.

“We are seeing that there are fewer than five to seven houses active on the market in Bangor,” says Black. “And even less than that in the surrounding towns on any given day.”

New Construction

In other parts of the country, Black says new construction has helped alleviate a bit of the supply issue, but here in Maine companies are facing a demand problem and cannot keep up with new builds. Unless there is a solution quickly, it’s not expected that new construction will aid in the low inventory of homes.

Getting Creative 

Black admits the low inventory has forced her and others to get creative. Digging into statistics, learning more about the demographics of who is buying and selling houses right now is helping real estate teams find new and fun ways to market and reach out to clients, customers, referrals and communities. “It has been fun to get back to basics to bring out some more inventory for the buyers,” says Black.

For those selling with the intention of buying a different home, Black reminds us to ask the lender what products they offer to keep you competitive with other offers that don’t have that contingency. Figuring out the next step after sale is holding some people from putting their house on the market. 

“Lenders are also learning how to get creative,” says Black. “With help of some great loan products, sellers can stay in the game right beside people who are jumping in fresh.”

Interest Rates

Gotlieb tells us interest rates have already begun to rise in January and February with some experts believing rates could get as high as 5 percent this year. There’s also the belief this hike will make sellers hold off on listing their homes because although they can get a higher sale, they don’t want to give up their low rate when they, in turn, have to buy another home.

But Gotlieb does not believe the rising interest rates will stop buyers from purchasing. “The rising interest rates will just make it continually harder for median income home buyers to purchase,” says Gotlieb, who gives the following example: a buyer may have to look at purchasing a $250,000 home when previously they could have purchased a $325,000 home because the difference in interest rate could affect the monthly payment that much. 

Multi-Unit Homes

Since the price of rent has soared, many buyers are seeking to offset the cost of living by purchasing a multi-unit home. 

“The interest in multi-unit homes has grown greatly which has increased the price of these properties,” says Gotlieb, who notes that she gets plenty of calls from buyers interested in purchasing multi-unit homes, sometimes strictly for investment but also to live in one part and rent out the rest.   

Advice for Potential Sellers

“If you are on the edge and have been thinking of it, today is the day to make the call to at least get more information,” says Black. “Your house is probably worth more than you think, and when priced properly and marketed well, you can get it sold quickly. And we need houses of all shapes and sizes! The buyers are just waiting in the shadows for your house to have that sign on the lawn.”

Advice for Buyers

Gotlieb puts emphasis on the pre-approval from a local lender that has a great reputation. “As a listing agent, when I go through multiple offers one of the very first things I look at is who the bank is that the buyer is pre-approved with,” she says. “I sometimes will have a seller choose a buyer based on them being pre-approved with a local lender they trust over someone with a tiny bit higher offer price. It’s confidence that the deal will make it to the closing table. The other great piece of advice would be to put your best foot forward. Offer your highest and best because you likely won’t get another shot at it. And lastly, sometimes sellers like to see a higher earnest money amount because it shows them you are a serious buyer.”

See this Section as it appeared in print here