Maine Mortgage Rates

Living in Maine

Maine is home to the easternmost point of the U.S. mainland, but that’s not the state’s only claim to fame. Maine also has some 3,500 miles of coastline, thousands of lakes and ponds and abundant forestland, so it’s a popular vacation destination.

The Maine housing market has seen a steady increase in home prices and sales in the last few years. In 2018, the state had the highest number of sales and the highest median sales price since record keeping began, according to the Maine Association of Realtors. However, the number of homes sold during the first quarter of 2019 was 5.6% lower than the first quarter of 2018. Prices were up slightly. The median sales price was $205,000, up 1.23%.

Inventory was also down in March 2019 compared to the previous year, a sign the state remains a seller’s market even though the pace of sales has slowed.

The rules and costs of buying a home in Maine

Homebuyers in Maine have the peace-of-mind that comes with regulations meant to help them, such as requiring sellers to disclose certain information about their homes and that an attorney represent the buyers at closing. Some homeowners may also qualify for property tax exemptions that could make buying property in Maine more affordable.

Home seller and buyer laws

In Maine, every seller must disclose potentially hazardous or harmful defects in their property even if they are selling it “as-is” and won’t be making repairs. Maine sellers must also disclose information about the heating and air conditioning system, the insulation in the home, the source of water, the system for waste and sewage disposal and any material defects and environmental hazards.

The state also requires an attorney be present at all real estate closings to represent the buyer. The buyer can choose the attorney, but the lender still decides who handles the loan closing.

Maine is one of many states that requires a judicial foreclosure, which means a foreclosure must go through the court system. According to state data, the foreclosure process in Maine typically takes 10 to 16 months. Buyers can request free mediation at the courthouse. Maine’s laws allow a lender to request a deficiency judgement; so even after a foreclosure, the former homeowners could be liable for some of their debt.

Maine is an equitable distribution state, which means if homeowners divorce, their property has to be divided in a fair way. The law does not require a 50/50 distribution of the property, so spouses can decide how they want to divide ownership; or, if they cannot agree, a judge will determine it for them.

Taxes

In Maine, real estate transfer taxes are typically paid one-half by the seller and one-half by the buyer. The transfer tax is currently $2.20 for each $500 in property value. So, for example, if you buy a $200,000 property, the transfer tax would be $880, or $440 for each side of the transaction. Your mortgage lender will disclose the exact amount of transfer taxes that must be paid once you have identified the property you want to buy.

Property taxes vary by individual counties and cities and are based on the assessed fair market value of your home. The average tax assessment by counties in Maine is 1.09% of the home’s value. Statewide, the median property tax assessment is $1,936 annually.

In Maine, property taxes are the responsibility of the person who owns the property on April 1, so it’s important for buyers and sellers to be aware of this date when transferring real estate. Different jurisdictions have various due dates for taxes, so buyers and sellers should make sure their property tax obligations are appropriately handled during the year when the property transfers ownership.

Maine offers several exemptions for property taxes. Under the Homestead Exemption, homeowners who have owned a property that is their primary residence for at least 12 months may be eligible for up to $20,000 as a property tax exemption. The amount may change based on the municipality’s assessment of your home’s value. Additional exemptions include up to $6,000 for war veterans 62 or older, those receiving a 100% disability as a veteran or those who became 100% disabled during their military service. Veterans who received a federal grant for adapted housing may be eligible for a $50,000 exemption. Blind homeowners may be eligible for an exemption of $4,000.

Some Maine residents may also eligible for an annual Property Tax Fairness credit of up to $750 (or $1,200 if you are 65 or older) if their home is their primary residence. However, there are income limits on the credit, and the amount paid in property taxes must be greater than 6% of your total income for that tax year.

Conforming loan limits

The conforming loan limit throughout Maine is $484,350 for the purchase of a one-unit home. Conforming loans meet guidelines and limits established by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored enterprises that work to make the mortgage market more stable and affordable. Conforming loan limits vary according to the housing market in different states or counties, and they generally offer the best interest rates for buyers with good credit. Loans for amounts above the limit are called jumbo loans, and they are typically more difficult to qualify for since some lenders consider them riskier. Jumbo loans also tend to come with higher interest rates.

Programs for homebuyers in Maine

First-time homebuyers in Maine and repeat homebuyers may be eligible for low-interest-rate loans or other programs designed to support homeownership in the state.

MaineHousing

MaineHousing provides mortgages with low, fixed rates for first-time buyers, and it discounts the rates by 0.25% for active-duty military personnel and veterans.

The low-interest loans are restricted to borrowers with incomes of $68,100 to $105,100, depending on their household size and location. In addition, the agency offers programs to help people replace a mobile home, recover after a disaster and finance homes located on tribal land.

Learn more: MaineHousing

Maine HoMEworks

Maine HoMEworks provides homebuyer education classes to prepare prospective homeowners with the financial tools they need to buy property.

The homebuyer classes are open to anyone who wants to learn more about the homebuying process.

Learn more: Maine HoMEworks

In addition to these state-specific homebuyer programs, Maine homebuyers may also qualify for programs offered by national organizations.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity builds homes with the help of volunteers for families in need.

Homebuyers must apply to their local Habitat for Humanity program, meet income qualifications and work on the home themselves.

Learn more: Habitat for Humanity

Rate shopping tips

When you’re ready to apply for a mortgage, follow these tips to help secure a loan with the best possible rate:

Contact at least three lenders on the same day.

Mortgage rates change daily, so it’s important to make comparisons on the same day. If possible, contact several types of lenders, such as a large bank, community bank, direct lender and credit union, so you can compare rates and loans.

Provide the same information to each lender.

Even if you don’t know the exact amount you’ll need to borrow, it’s important to ask for a quote based on the same loan amount with the same loan term, such as a 30-year, fixed-rate loan for $250,000. It’s also important to be consistent with any personal information you provide, such as the type of home you plan to buy (and whether it will be your primary residence), your credit score, income and assets.

Confirm the cost to borrow by adding together all lender fees.

Lenders sometimes have different names for various fees. Some break out fees individually, and some provide a lump-sum figure. You’ll need to compare the total fees from each lender to understand the true cost of borrowing.

Ask for the APR, not just the interest rate, and whether you can lock in your rate.

The APR (annual percentage rate) will take into account all fees and points you may have to pay for your loan, so it’s a more accurate comparison tool than the interest rate. To get the best possible rate, ask your lender about the typical time it takes to close a mortgage and whether you should lock in your rate. If a rate lock is possible, find out what your lender charges and whether it’s possible to get a “float-down” option if rates should drop.

The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.