A for sale sign by a building in Portland on Friday, May 6, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

A home in Lewiston closed on Thursday for $15,000 under the asking price and the buyer got $4,000 from the seller toward closing costs.

“That’s the first under the asking price with a closing-cost concession that I closed since 2018,” Faith Morse, a broker with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in Auburn, said.

It is something she and other real estate agents expect will happen more in Maine, where it had become common in the hot real estate market of the past four years to waive inspections and pay tens of thousands of dollars over asking price. Rising interest rates and inflation over the past year have cooled the market, leaving more room for Maine buyers to negotiate.

The Lewiston property is a microcosm of situations playing out in today’s real estate market. Morse said her buyer had a rigid budget, so she had to look for low-priced options. The property was advertised as commercial, but it is in a neighborhood of single-family homes and can be lived in.

A previous buyer’s offer fell through because rising mortgage rates made the home unaffordable. That made the buyer more motivated and willing to make concessions to Morse’s buyer.

“The mentality now is sellers worry they missed the top of the market and it is going down,” she said. “They want to get out.”

Maine is reflecting national trends. Home sellers gave concessions in almost 42 percent of home sales nationwide in the fourth quarter of last year, according to data released Thursday by real estate website Redfin. A concession is anything that helps reduce the buyers’ total cost to purchase the home, such as repairs, closing costs and mortgage buydowns.

That’s up almost 12 percent from the previous year and is a bit higher than the 41 percent from May through July of 2020, when the housing market nearly ground to a halt because of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Buyers are asking sellers for things that were unheard of during the past few years,” said Van Welborn, a Redfin real estate agent in Phoenix.

Another big difference in the market today compared with a year ago is buyers are getting inspections and asking owners to share the costs for any repairs needed, Erin Oldham, associate broker at Portside Real Estate in Portland, said. Before, they were mostly forgoing inspections. Even if they had an inspection, they didn’t ask for money for repairs. That has changed.

“If we find $10,000 worth of items, we may make some kind of request to share those costs,” Oldham said. “We’re sort of back to how it used to work pre-pandemic.”

Oldham said the new flexibility, which began late last year, is because a house may not have multiple offers or it has been on the market for a few weeks, both indications of the cooling market. And home seekers have heard stories about buyers’ remorse from those who bought without an inspection.

“I think everyone is calming down and making offers that make more sense, that protect the buyer,” she said.

Hot markets including Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth aren’t seeing the concessions yet, but they are happening at home sales in Portland, Oldham said.

“I think it’s going to be a little more enjoyable to do house shopping over the next couple years because you get to negotiate the price down rather than up,” she said.