Midcoast Maine: Winter 2024 Newsletter

Entering an Era of Change

Camden and the Midcoast have quieted down after the holidays but there’s lots of ongoing winter activity.

The National Toboggan Championships, held February 3 and 4 at the Camden Snow Bowl, were a great success with over 400 toboggans entered, clear weather, and favorable ice conditions; the town was packed and restaurants overflowing. The annual screening of the Banff Mountain Film Festival was also a February highlight, and soon enough, it will be time for the highly anticipated Camden Conference to engage the community. This year’s focus is India: Rising Ambitions, Challenges at Home, with keynote speaker Nirupama Rao and almost a dozen other contributors.

The back-to-back recent storms brought devastating coastal flooding to our waterfront communities. With that, there was an outpouring of support as waterfront businesses worked together to rebuild and reopen. There is no shortage of work for all the waterfront contractors as owners plan for reconstruction and improvements. The days are lengthening and spring is approaching; it’s never too early to start thinking about summer!

Midcoast Market Update

As you can see from the accompanying table, the Midcoast real estate market has had a very strong run over the past three years; annual sales above $1M have essentially tripled since 2018. Some of this is due to price appreciation, but increased demand has been the main driver of sales.

This stands in sharp contrast to the overall US market, which saw a decline of 18% in existing home sales compared to 2022 – 4.09M residential sales in 2023 versus 4.80M sales in 2022. Maine properties remain a sought-after asset. The issue here, like many markets in the rest of the country, is a lack of inventory at all levels. 

Last fall’s market started off strong and then stalled in mid-October across all our markets in New England. We thought that we were going into a “typical” fall market, which would quiet down over the holidays and remain quiet well into February. But apparently, there was substantial remaining liquidity in the system, and the real estate market, along with the equities markets, rebounded with strength.

As of the end of January, demand continues with nine sales over $1M in the Midcoast and 20 homes under agreement. Above $3M, there have been two sales so far in 2024, including Bluff Point on Islesboro, which LandVest sold for $4.35M, making it the highest sale in the Midcoast so far this year. This was a private waterfront estate up-island with acreage, multiple buildings, both new and historic, and a deep-water dock.

Climate Adaptations

As real estate advisors, we are focused on understanding the impact of the recent weather-related events on the real estate market, and the toll they are having on the insurance market.  Realtor Magazine recently said “Insurance has shifted from a routine transaction detail to a significant obstacle for homebuyers, affecting real estate transactions across the U.S. Rising costs, uncertainty, and various factors such as destructive weather events, fraud, and reinsurance expenses contribute to the burden.”

We are seeing instances of buyers having difficulty obtaining insurance to protect their assets. Will a new owner be able to obtain a policy? At what cost? What are the options?

LandVest is uniquely positioned to assist our clients through this changing era. We have established relationships with the top appraisers and insurance brokers in Maine and through-out New England. We work with the most experienced landplanners and engineers who understand the local and state regulatory environment, the permitting process, and are up to date on recent events.

Social and Economic Changes

As the pandemic fades into the past, we can begin to assess the social and economic changes that have taken place since 2020, and their ongoing effects on the coastal Maine real estate market. The following are the major trends:

• Millennial generation entering prime homebuying age (later than expected)
• Boomer generation is downsizing (more slowly than expected)
• Remote work is here to stay (allowing for increased household mobility)
• People are relocating to the Northeast because the effects of climate change are far less here
than in most of the US
• The market is slowly adjusting to a higher level of interest rates than we have seen in almost 20

Maine and New England are the beneficiaries of the above trends. We are perceived as a safe,
welcoming, and attractively priced option for relocation by both primary homebuyers and those looking for summer homes in a beautiful, accessible location.

Real Estate Representation and Commissions

There has been a lot of press in the past months about real estate commissions and representation, who pays what, how much, and for what services. We welcome the opportunity to discuss all questions regarding commissions and client representation. Our listing agreements and terms have been, and are open to, discussion and negotiation.

Our main business focus is representing the owners of properties that will benefit from our expertise across the real estate spectrum.  We offer a high level of knowledge and expertise, with a solid history of sales that demonstrates LandVest’s commitment to customized brokerage solutions for complex and unique properties. Our broad-based marketing capabilities are capped by our affiliation with Christie’s International Real Estate.

LandVest is an employee-owned company with a proud 55-year history of providing the top real estate services in New England. We have a well-respected and well-known brand, a broad regional, national, and international network, a sophisticated contemporary technology platform, and a collaborative culture of teams working together to provide our clients with the best advice and services available.

Midcoast Maine Office News

We are pleased to announce that Lewis Wheelwright joined the Camden office last fall. Lewis is a broker with a number of years of experience working in Midcoast real estate. He brings with him a passion for providing the best results for his clients, and he is already making a positive impact here at LandVest and in the Midcoast. Welcome Lewis!

For the third year in a row, Joseph Sortwell was chosen to be part of the 2024 Christie’s International Real Estate Masters Circle, a select group of top-performing agents within the worldwide Christie’s International Real Estate network. Each Masters Circle agent is nominated by their brokerage and must meet rigorous standards for luxury sales volume, client service, and a commitment to professional excellence in real estate. Congratulations Joseph!

We look forward to hearing from you if we can assist with your real estate needs.

Joseph Sortwell

Lewis Wheelwright

Marisa Pickford

Terry Sortwell