Dock Square in Kennebunkport is almost empty of pedestrians in February 2021. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The BDN is exploring Maine’s housing crisis from every possible angle, from how it affects home prices, to what it means for Mainers across the state. Read our ongoing coverage here and fill out this form to tell us what you want to know.

Housing values in all of Maine have gone up since the COVID-19 pandemic began, reflecting both changing living trends and nationwide rise in prices that has made it increasingly difficult for many to enter the housing market.

The hikes are centered on southern Maine, the epicenter of the housing crunch, where nearly every community has seen its homes go up by $100,000 or more by median value since the pandemic began. But it is a statewide problem, with prices rising the most percentage-wise in more rural areas.

Here are the places that have been the biggest rises in the prices of homes.

10. Cumberland, +$196,000

Percent cost increase by median value: 44 percent ($445,000 in Feb. 2020 to $641,000 in April 2022)

2020 population: 8,500

This coastal town between Portland and Freeport is also one of Maine’s wealthiest, with a median household income in 2020 of nearly $116,000. Residents who live there can enjoy access to the water as well as the Cumberland Fair, celebrating its 150th iteration this September.

9. York, +$207,900

Percent cost increase: 44 percent ($470,000 in Feb. 2020 to $678,000 in April 2022)

2020 population: 13,700

This resort town is known for its sandy beaches and Cape Neddick Light. At the southern extreme of the Portland metro area, York is around 10 minutes from New Hampshire and just over 20 minutes from Massachusetts.

8. Ogunquit, +$208,000

Percent cost increase: 37 percent ($558,000 in Feb. 2020 to $766,000 in April 2022)

2020 population: 1,600 people

Part of neighboring Wells until 1980, Ogunquit is one of the priciest places in all of Maine, famous for its beaches as well as its LGBTQ population. That’s one of the reasons it has seen an influx of out-of-state residents who can afford to live there, though it has seen a lower price increase than Kennebunkport and Cape Elizabeth.

7. Chebeague Island, +$210,000

Percent cost increase: 44 percent ($472,000 in Feb. 2020 to $682,000 in April 2022)

2020 Population: 400

This island community off the coast of Yarmouth is only accessible via ferry or boat and features more than a dozen other islands besides its namesake. The town has more than 1,600 summer residents and has already seen growth since breaking away from Cumberland in 2007: the population grew 16 percent from 341 to 396 from 2010 to 2020.

6. Yarmouth, +$226,000

Percent cost increase: 48 percent ($475,000 in Feb. 2020 to $701,000 in April 2022)

2020 Population: 9,000

Residents can enjoy access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Royal River, which runs through the middle of the town. With a population that increased 8 percent from 2010 to 2020 and its famous Clam Festival, Yarmouth saw a nearly 50 percent increase in the value of its homes. Neighboring North Yarmouth saw growth in its housing market just under its more populous neighbor, with homes going up $195,000 in value.

5. Freeport, +$227,000

Percent cost increase: 55 percent ($414,000 in Feb. 2020 to $641,000 in April 2022)

2020 Population: 8,700

Known widely for its shopping scene, Freeport is famous as the home of L.L. Bean, which has its headquarters on Casco Street and has had a presence in the town since it began in 1912. However, it is probably not only the company or the town’s Desert of Maine tourist attraction that is driving up values: it is seen as a widely livable community for families who want access to the Portland metropolitan area.

4. Falmouth, +$232,000

Percent cost increase: 45 percent ($520,000 in Feb. 2020 to $752,000 in April 2022)

2020 Population: 12,400

This residential community just north of Portland grew from an agricultural settlement to a noted Portland suburb with advances in transportation in the early-to-mid 20th century. With over 10,000 people, it is one of the largest communities on this list, with high demand raising housing values 45 percent since the beginning of the pandemic.

3. Harpswell, +$233,000

Percent cost increase: 52 percent ($451,000 in Feb. 2020 to $685,000 in April 2022)

2020 Population: 5,000

This seaside community north of Portland, which includes a mainland “neck” along with several islands, has seen the largest value increase of any community within Cumberland County. Well known for its natural beauty, the growth in the price of Harpswell dwellings shows that the appeal of Southern Maine goes far beyond close proximity to Portland.

2. Cape Elizabeth, +$266,000

Percent cost increase: 48 percent ($550K in Feb. 2020 to $815K in April 2022)

2020 Population: 9,500

Known for the famous Portland Head Light and for being the entrance to Casco Bay, Cape Elizabeth is an affluent suburb of Portland. Homes in the communities are coveted by those who can afford them, with demand seemingly only growing over the course of the pandemic.

1. Kennebunkport, +$312,000

Percent cost increase: 47 percent ($665,000 in Feb. 2020 to $977,000 in April 2022)

2020 Population: 3,600

Kennebunkport has been a well-known summer destination since just after the American Civil War and is most famous nationally for being the home of the Bush compound, the summer retreat of former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

More recently, homes there have become pricier than ever, having increased by $64,000 from just January to April. That is by far the priciest place in Maine, beating out Cape Elizabeth by over $140,000. Kennebunkport appears to be on pace to be the first community in Maine where homes have a median value of $1 million.