A for sale sign stands outside a single-family residence on the market Sunday, June 18, 2023, in Denver. On Thursday, the National Association of Realtors reports on sales of existing homes in May. Credit: David Zalubowski / AP

Maine home sales remained lower than a year ago as buyers continued to face a low for-sale inventory across the state.

Buyers scooped up 1,134 homes in May, which represents a 20.08 percent decline, compared with May 2022, according to the   Maine Association of Realtors. While sales increased 43 percent over April numbers, the number of homes sold over the first five months of 2023 decreased by 25 percent compared with the same period in 2022.

Meanwhile, the median sales price for a Maine home rose by 6.57 percent to $373,000, compared with May 2022.

Carmen McPhail, the president of the Maine Association of Realtor and associate broker at family-owned United Country Lifestyle Properties of Maine, which has offices in Lincoln, Bangor and Lubec, said Thursday that the housing market got off to a slow start due mostly to a low for-sale inventory.

“Sellers and buyers have adjusted their strategies to accommodate the current

conditions, with sellers waiting to list until their next move is secured and buyers

reacting swiftly when suitable properties become available,”

The fall in home sales here mirrors a broader decline in the Northeast and across the country.

Nationally, home sales fell 20 percent in May 2023, compared with the same time the year before. In the Northeast, home sales were down 25.4 percent in May 2023, compared with the previous May, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Despite increasing prices in Maine, the median sales prices for homes have fallen nationally, by 3.4 percent. However median prices in the Northeast have risen slightly, with a  2.5 percent increase over prices during May 2022.

On the county level, the most significant increase in median home prices was in Knox County, where the median price has risen 16.8 percent for the three-month period ending May 31, compared with the same time last year. The highest median home price for the period was in Cumberland County, where it reached $536,500.

The median home price rose most slowly in Sagadahoc County, where it actually fell 5 percent to $380,000. Aroostook had the lowest median home price overall at $155,500. The median home price rose in all but two counties.

On the sales front, sales were down across the board between March 2023 and May 2023, compared with the same time last year. Sales fell most sharply in Waldo County, where they are down 45.5 percent. The smallest drop was in Piscataquis County, where they fell 8.3 percent.

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.