The recent $8.2 million sale of a lakeside estate in Orland — one of the biggest sales ever in Maine — raised eyebrows among real estate watchers.
But the market for luxury homes in that price range continues to be strong because buyers are not constrained by high mortgage interest rates or inflation. Some real estate agents say they are a bargain for affluent buyers compared with properties in other states such as New York.
“Homes that are selling for up to $10 million now would be $30 million in the Hamptons,” David Jones, owner of F.O. Bailey Real Estate in Falmouth, said. “People coming from outside the state have a big desire to live in Maine.”
Jones has a $7.9 million listing in Falmouth located by a deepwater oceanfront with 10 bedrooms, 14 baths and three dwellings on the property, and he sold one on Sebago Lake in 2021 for $8.5 million.
Homeownership remains more difficult for those trying to purchase homes priced up to $700,000, a level where interest rates mean a lot to buyers, Jones said. At that rate, there is still a shortage of inventory, so prices are going up.
The median sales price in Maine reached $335,000 last year, up 12 percent over the previous year, but 17 percent fewer homes were sold because of the shortage of listings, according to Maine Association of Realtors data released Friday.
A shortage of luxury homes also is driving up prices, but most of the buyers are impervious to inflationary and mortgage interest pressures. Many pay cash on scarce homes that get multiple offers and get snapped up quickly, said Elise Kiely, senior vice president of Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, the firm that sold the Orland property.
“There is strong demand for high-end lifestyle, specialty homes,” Kiely said. “They are getting top dollar from out-of-state cash buyers not affected by 7 percent interest rates.”
Kiely said a lot of the most desired properties have been in families for generations and have water access or are close to mountains for skiing or trails for outdoor activities.
Many luxury homes are sold quietly, with owners telling realtors like Kiely that they want to sell and to let them know if she has a buyer. She has about three such homes for sale now between $4 million to $6 million. Kiely said a sale in the $6 million to $7 million range still gets noticed in Maine’s real estate market, but it is not considered extreme anymore.
Even rural areas are fetching high prices, especially lakefront properties that raise an image of sitting on a dock and enjoying peace and quiet. She sold a $3.95 million home in Harrison on Long Lake last year.
Sotheby’s recently released its significant sales in 2022, including the Orland estate. The company closed $850 million in sales last year, with half of the properties selling for more than $1 million. The average sales price was $890,000.
“Maine continues to be considered as a special place to live,” Kiely said. “I don’t see that changing.”