People Are Moving to Maine in Record Numbers; Renters and Buyers Are Struggling

Data shows high rates of people interested in moving to Maine, but state housing officials say the availability of affordable rentals is worsening

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Rankings on two websites suggest a record number of people are interested in moving to Maine, with demand for housing in some cities surging during the pandemic.

Based on an analysis of its 2020 data, Atlas Van Lines says 62.4% of its Maine moves were people coming into the state. That percentage is higher than in every state besides Idaho and North Carolina.

Prior the release of that data, real estate broker Redfin had released a list of the 10 most competitive cities to buy a home in the United States. South Portland ranked 10th, but was the only East Coast city to make the list.

There are plenty of anecdotes to back up the numbers.

Sarah Piper, a South Portland native who has been trying to buy a home in the city since last spring, told NBC affiliate News Center Maine that the process has been "extremely frustrating," and "shocking," adding that some homes she has looked at are getting offers "$25,000, $35,000 or $40,000 over" the asking price.

The news isn't much better for renters.

According to recent data from the Maine State Housing Authority, or MaineHousing, 66.7% of households in South Portland are not able to afford the median two-bedroom rent in the city, based on the organization's affordability index.

In Portland, that number jumps to 75.3%.

"Affordability, particularly in the rental market, has continued to worsen," said Denise Lord, senior director of planning and communications for MaineHousing.

Lord added that the index had not taken into account impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic because it relies on income forecasts that do not immediately reflect sudden events.

The organization says it is watching the virus' impact on incomes and will adjust its analyses accordingly.

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