$38 million Bayside project nears final vote in Portland

November 13, 2013 in Articles

Author: Dennis Hoey
Publication: pressherald.com

PORTLAND – The high-rise residential and retail development called ‘midtown’ gets favorable reviews at a planning board workshop. A high-rise residential and retail development that’s proposed for Portland’s Bayside neighborhood got generally favorable reviews from the Planning Board during a workshop and public hearing that lasted nearly three hours Tuesday evening.


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New proposal reflects diversifying East End in Portland

October 24, 2013 in Articles

Author: Randy Billings
Publication: pressherald.com

PORTLAND – The plan for a four-story building with homes and businesses adds to other upscale projects going up on Munjoy Hill. Developers are planning a multilevel mixed-use building on Munjoy Hill, a neighborhood that’s now considered one of the most desirable in Portland.


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Home sales in Maine surge

October 22, 2013 in Articles

Author: Jessica Hall
Publication: Portland Press Herald

Sales of existing single-family homes in September rose almost 25 percent from last year.

Sales of existing single-family homes in Maine rose 24.59 percent in September, more than double the increase nationally.

click image to enlarge

A for sale sign is posted in front of a home on Fletcher Street in Kennebunk. Maine home sales jumped 24.59 percent in September 2013 over September 2012, doubling the pace seen nationally.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Statewide, 1,307 homes changed hands in September, up from 1,049 in September 2012, according to Maine Listings, a subsidiary of the Maine Association of Realtors.

The median sale price rose 1.76 percent, to $173,000. The median price is the point at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

The gains in September sales volume followed jumps of 20 percent in August and 31 percent in July, year over year.

The jump in Maine last month outpaced sales nationwide, where sales were up 10.9 percent in September. Nationally, the median sale price for an existing single-family home was $199,300 in September, 11.4 percent higher than a year ago.

In the Northeast, home sales jumped 15 percent, and the median sale price was up 2.3 percent, to $240,900.

“The extraordinarily busy summer season is beginning to wind down, and we now enter what many consider the second-busiest selling time of the year – fall,” said Bart Stevens, president of the Maine Association of Realtors. “Here in Maine, winter can sometimes be long, and many buyers want to be settled before the winter snows arrive. With continued low interest rates and plenty of inventory, this time of year is perfect for buyers.”

For the three months that ended Sept. 30, sales statewide rose 25.04 percent, to 4,239 homes, compared with 3,390 homes in the same three-month period of 2012. The biggest percentage gains came in Franklin, Lincoln and Knox counties.

In Cumberland and York counties, home sales over the three months rose 28.37 percent and 23.57 percent, respectively.

In the Portland area, limited inventory prompted buyers to act quickly in making purchase decisions, said Ed Gardner of Ocean Gate Realty and the Greater Portland Board of Realtors.

The Bangor area has more homes for sale, said Angelia Levesque of RE/MAX Advantage Realty Group in Bangor. “Fall is always a good time to buy. It’s always busy,” she said. “People want to be out of their home and into their new home before winter sets in.”

Nationally, homes are not selling as quickly as they did in the summer. A home’s median time on the market in September was 50 days, compared with 43 days in August. In September 2012, the time on market was more than 70 days, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The national association said higher home prices, stagnant salaries and rising mortgage rates are hurting affordability, which hit a five-year low in September, according to its gauge. The trade group said sales probably peaked in July and August.

Interest rates have risen sharply since May on expectations that the Federal Reserve will start cutting back on its monthly bond purchases this year, with the 30-year fixed mortgage rate surging nearly a full percentage point. It hit 4.49 percent in September, the highest since July 2011, according to Freddie Mac.

The National Association of Realtors’ affordability index measures whether a typical family earns enough to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national and regional levels.

Economists said they expect national home sales rates to decline in October, in part because the 16-day government shutdown hurt consumer confidence and likely delayed the processing of mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration.

“It had gotten a little quieter during the shutdown. Next month’s numbers may show some effect, of course, but not a lot because fall is still a major buying season for us,” said Tina Lucas of Lucas Real Estate in Portland.

$12 million Portland housing proposal up for city approval

October 7, 2013 in Articles

Author: Randy Billings
Publication: Portland Press Herald

PORTLAND – Another 39 units of market-rate housing could soon be in store for the city's India Street neighborhood, a former industrial area nestled between the Old Port and Munjoy Hill.

Work continues on the Bay House development in Portland on Monday, Sept. 23, 2013.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer


The Planning Board on Tuesday will hold a public hearing and vote on the Seaport Lofts, which would bring seven townhouses and 32 single-story units at Hancock and Newbury streets.

The estimated $12 million project is the second phase of the 86-unit Bay House development, which has been under construction over the last year.

Seaport Lofts would be built on what is now a parking lot at 133 Newbury St. The four-story building would consist of brick on the bottom half and metal siding on the top. Forty-three parking spaces would be included on site.

William Conway of Sebago Technics, a consulting firm representing the developer, said the plan being presented Tuesday is the project's fourth iteration. The changes have consisted of tweaks to the overall design, landscaping and stormwater systems, he said.

"In my view, any of the remaining issues are relatively minor in nature," Conway said.

The new units will further bolster the supply of market-rate housing on the east side of the city.

The Bay House development, consisting of 86 condominiums in two buildings at the site of the former Village Cafe is still months away from being finished, but 60 percent of the units are under contract.

Most of the tenants are baby boomers said Sandra Johnson, a broker at Town & Shore Associates, which is marketing the condos.

Half of the tenants are from Maine, she said.

"They're moving out of their suburban homes," Johnson said of the tenants. "They want to live within walking distance of the city's amenities."

Johnson said the most expensive unit at Bay House – a top-floor, three bedroom condo with a water view – has already been sold for $825,000.

One-bedroom condos are being marketed online starting at $295,000. Two bedrooms start at $380,000 and three bedrooms start at $585,000.

Johnson said the southernmost building, consisting of 42 units, should be finished by the end of the year, and the north building, consisting of 44 units, should be finished in January.

Up to six ground-floor retail units are being marketed along Middle Street. Prospective tenants, including a fitness center, are showing interest, but no leases have been signed, said Jennifer Small, an associate broker at Malone Commercial Brokers.

Bay House is 65 feet tall and has elevators and an underground parking garage for 80 vehicles. Parking lifts allowing one vehicle to park above the other are also available to tenants for an additional charge, Johnson said.

Building heights have been a source of concern for India Street residents.

Seaport Lofts will be 50 feet tall, the maximum allowed by zoning. It was originally part of a contract zone that would have allowed an additional 65-foot-tall building. However, that zone was amended last year by the City Council to remove the Seaport parcel.

The Bay House project was originally slated to get underway in 2008, but was delayed when the economic downturn and banking collapse made it impossible for the project to get financing.

The project was restarted last year, after the City Council granted developers an estimated tax break of $2.05 million over the next 20 years.

To receive financing, developers also agreed to turn one of the Bay House buildings into apartments if condo sales fell flat.

That, however, has not been a problem.

"It's been a pleasant surprise how well the units have been received," said Gordon Reger, the chairman and chief executive officer of Reger Holdings LLC, the New York investment firm spearheading the projects.

Maine home sales up 20% in August

September 23, 2013 in Articles

Publication: MaineBiz

The sales volume for single-family homes jumped 20% in August compared with the same period one year ago.

The latest figures from the Maine Real Estate Information System show real estate agents in the state sold 1,506 homes this year, compared with 1,255 in August 2012. The median price on those homes also rose compared with last year from $170,000 to $182,000.

The increases in home sales volume and median price in Maine outpaced regional and national trends for single-family homes. In New England, sales volume rose 12.7% and the median sales price rose 7.6% to $268,000.

Nationally, sales volume rose 12.8% in August and the median sales price rose to $212,200, a 14.4% increase, according to the National Association of Realtors.




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