A new house nearing completion stands on Cayden's Way in Cape Elizabeth on Friday, May 20, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / 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.

It’s no secret that you need a wad of money to buy a home in Maine, with a shortage of for-sale properties continuing to drive up prices despite signs the real estate market is cooling.

But just how high are the prices? In the Portland and South Portland metropolitan area, you need to earn at least $130,000 annually to buy a home with a median price of $472,790, a study released this week by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University found using April data.

That translates into a monthly payment of nearly $3,400, including the $2,400 mortgage, plus insurance and property tax. For its data, Harvard assumed a 3.5 percent down payment on a 30-year fixed mortgage with no points and a 4.98 percent interest rate.

That is the highest income required to buy housing in the state. While it is lower than the $181,200 needed in greater Boston, Cambridge and Newton, it still is much higher than other areas of Maine.

Those who want to buy in the Lewiston-Auburn metropolitan area need to make $78,800 to afford the median home priced at $286,609. The monthly payment would total $2,036.

To afford a median-priced home of $266,850 in the Augusta-Waterville micropolitan area, the buyer would need to make $73,400, with a monthly payment of $1,380.

The Bangor metropolitan area was the most affordable, requiring an income of $66,160 to buy a $240,620 median-priced home. The monthly payment would total $1,710.

Housing prices are rising faster than wages. The mean annual salary for all occupations across Maine was $53,230 in 2021, according to state labor data. However, management occupations averaged $102,360 while CEOs averaged almost $150,000.

Average wages for all occupations in the Portland and South Portland metropolitan area were $57,000, according to state data. Those in the Bangor metropolitan area were $52,920 and in the Lewiston-Auburn area, $50,640.

Home price appreciation nationwide was 20.6 percent in March 2022, the Harvard study said, topping the previous high of 20 percent in August 2021 and marking the largest jump in three decades of recordkeeping.

It concluded by saying public and private policies need to focus on making affordable housing available to lower- and middle-class people.

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Lori Valigra

Lori Valigra, senior reporter for economy and business, holds an M.S. in journalism from Boston University. She was a Knight journalism fellow at M.I.T. and has extensive international reporting experience...