New Horizons in Housing

What Public Law 2021, Chapter 672 (LD 2003), the “Housing Act” Means for Maine

Overview

LD 2003, signed into law by the Governor on April 27, 2022 as Public Law 2021, Chapter 672, also known as the “Housing Act,” marks a significant victory for housing advocates and the beginning of a new chapter in housing construction in Maine.

The law arose from the work of a commission formed by resolve in the First Regular Session of the 130th Legislature in 2021. The commission met throughout the summer and fall of 2021 and reported its findings to the legislature in January, 2022. The commission recommended 9 action items to help eliminate barriers to housing construction created by local land use and zoning ordinances.

In early March, those recommendations were printed in the form of LD 2003, which had a public hearing on March 7, 2022. MEREDA and most of the major business, real estate, and construction advocates all testified in support of the bill. Ultimately, the 9 recommendations proposed by the commission were winnowed down to the handful below, and the Labor and Housing Committee voted to support the bill along party lines, with Democrats supporting passage of the bill as written and Republicans opposing.

The bill did ultimately receive bipartisan support from the legislature, with 3 House Republicans and 1 Senate Republican voting in support. The Governor had a public bill signing event, demonstrating her support for the effort to create more housing, on April 27. MEREDA was very active in the lobbying effort for this bill and was asked to be a part of the bill signing. Bev Uhlenhake attended on MEREDA’s behalf – thanks, Bev! And thank you to all the MEREDA members who made calls or sent texts or e-mails to your state legislators.

This is a big victory for housing development in Maine. The law itself will take effect on April 8, 2022, but municipalities are not required to implement the requirements of the law until July 1, 2023. After that date, landowners in Maine will be able to take advantage of new incentives and eased restraints on property use, to develop the much-needed housing we need to hit the ultimate mark of 25,000 new units (the unofficial number used by the legislature).

Statewide Housing Production Goals/Municipal Role in Statewide Housing Production Goals

Recognizing that Housing is a Statewide Crisis Requiring a Statewide Solution

Statewide: The Housing Act establishes the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) as the agency responsible for establishing statewide housing production goals. While unofficial sources believe at least 25,000 new units are needed to accommodate Maine’s workforce in the coming years, DECD will be responsible for working in concert with the Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA), to establish housing production goals that increase the availability and affordability of all types of housing. These goals will serve as statewide benchmarks to drive the conversation around housing development. 

Municipal: The Housing Act provides that municipalities have a role and responsibility in achieving the statewide housing production goals that will be set by DECD. Municipalities must ensure that ordinances and regulations are designed to affirmatively further the purposes of the federal Fair Housing Act to achieve the statewide or regional housing production goal.

Municipal Technical and Financial Assistance (the Housing Opportunity Program)

$3 Million Financial Support for Municipalities to Update and Modernize Ordinances, Implement Housing Act

The Supplemental Budget, LD 1995, Public Law 2021, Chapter 635, included a recommendation from the Housing Commission to establish a Housing Opportunity Program within DECD to provide technical and financial assistance to municipalities to implement the provisions of the Housing Act. Specifically, the budget provides $3 million for municipalities to receive grants to assist with rewriting their ordinances to update and modernize their land use codes. DECD will have responsibility for developing an application for the grant funds, and municipalities seeking funding will participate in a competitive award process.

Affordable Housing Density Bonus

Leveraging Density Bonuses to Incentivize Affordable Housing

The Housing Act provides a substantial incentive for affordable housing construction in the form of a density bonus. The density bonus is permitted where multifamily housing is allowed, and the lot is located within a designated growth area under a comprehensive plan (for towns with no comprehensive plan, the lot must be served by public water and sewer.)

Base density bonus: An affordable housing project may only take advantage of 2 ½ times the density imposed on the property by ordinance (referred to as the base density), not any greater density applied to the property under other provisions of this law. 

Affordable housing development: Qualifying projects will service populations earning: 80% of AMI for rental units; and 120% of AMI for owned units.

The affordable housing density bonus may only be approved after the developer executes a restrictive covenant to ensure that the property remains affordable under the above definitions for at least 30 years after the completion of construction.

Duplexes Allowed on All Residential Lots, Up to Four Units Allowed on Residential Lots in Growth Zones

The End of Single-family Zoning?

Perhaps the most discussed provisions of the Housing Act are those that will permit Maine landowners to do more with their property than may otherwise be permissive under local and municipal zoning ordinances.

  • In a vacant lot generally: up to two dwelling units.
  • In a lot with an existing dwelling unit: up to two additional dwelling units so long as one of the units is an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) and one is additional to the existing dwelling unit, or either one. In other words, the law prohibits an additional two dwelling units from being added to an existing unit, and prohibits both additional new dwelling units from being ADU’s.
  • In a vacant lot located in a designated growth zone under a comprehensive plan: up to four dwelling units. (In towns without a comprehensive plan, a vacant lot can up have to four dwelling units if it is served by a public water system and a public sewer system.)

While this may seem like a significant shift at first glance, it is important to note that many Maine towns have no zoning at all, and are therefore unaffected. Additionally, if a town does not have a comprehensive plan or, for towns without a comprehensive plan, is not serviced by public sewer and water, only two dwelling units will be permitted on a lot.

Additionally, town zoning ordinances can continue to define setbacks and other dimensional standards applicable to the property. The law prohibits a municipality from imposing dimensional standards which are more onerous than they would be for single family zoning, but can match the current (or any future) standard for single family zoning. 

In additional to local dimensional standards, state zoning requirements, including those related to the shoreland zone and subdivisions, will continue to apply. Finally, development on any given lot may be further limited by any covenants, conditions, or restrictions placed on the deed to the property.

This means that while Mainers will undoubtedly take advantage of this opportunity to build housing for their community, that development will need to fit within the physical limitations of the lot, comply with all other state and local land use requirements, and pencil out financially. That last one is particularly important to remember when dispelling myths about the Housing Act. If a developer doesn’t see a return on his or her investment, he or she will not build the project. Accordingly, the construction of dwelling units will continue to be driven primarily by the market and market needs.

Accessory Dwelling Units 

For Everyone!

In addition to the above permissive uses, any lot zoned for residential use will also be permitted to have one ADU. By and large, local zoning ordinances define what constitutes an ADU. However, the Housing Act sets a few provisions that standardized treatment of ADU’s across the state. An ADU must be at least 190 square feet or the standard established by the MUBEC Board if such is greater. Additionally, a town must allow at least one ADU on any lot zoned for residential use. As with the above density bonuses, a town may not impose dimensional standards greater than would be imposed on a single-family dwelling unit. A municipality may not include ADU’s as part of any growth cap calculus.

The same restrictions related to the other state and local land use restrictions will apply, including the shoreland zone. An applicant for a permit to construct an ADU must also demonstrate that the unit will be properly serviced by sewer and water.

Conclusion

The Housing Act represents a significant shift in attitude toward housing construction and development in general. While MEREDA has always known that real estate development is community development, we are finally seeing that understanding mirrored in policymaking. Unfortunately, this is just the first step toward ensuring that Maine towns and communities take the right action to capitalize on policies adopted in the Housing Act. Municipalities considering actions like inclusionary zoning, rent control, and other stringent regulatory measures to address affordable housing need to understand that these polices often have the unintended consequence of stopping housing production and modernization.

The housing crisis is a statewide issue, and it deserves statewide solutions. The Housing Act is a great first step in framing this issue as larger than a single locality, but much work remains. We look forward to coordinating with fellow stakeholders and allies to work with municipal policymakers to help them understand the best approach to the housing crisis in their community.

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MEREDA’s Morning Menu – 3 Mistakes Developers Frequently Make

We all make mistakes and learn valuable lessons with each development. A well-known and experienced developer, lawyer, and accountant team up to head us off at the pass – by disclosing common real estate project errors and providing tips on avoiding pitfalls. Our esteemed panel includes:

Moderator, David Soley, Attorney at Bernstein Shur, panelists Jason Favreau, Principal at BerryDunn, Conor Shankman, Associate at Bernstein Shur, and Paul Peck, Attorney at Drummond & Drummond, and Founder of LWS Development.

Join us on June 15th for what is sure to be an informative and eye-opening presentation!

About the Event

June 15, 2022 – 7:30 – 9:00 AM

In-Person – Pre-registration is required. No walk-ins.

Holiday Inn By the Bay
88 Spring Street
Portland, ME

Buffet Breakfast: 7:30-8:00 am
Program: 8:00-9:00 am

** COVID PROTOCOLS **

Holiday Inn By the Bay Covid Protocols and Precautions: 

“Face Coverings are required in the lobby and public spaces for anyone who is unvaccinated”

A buffet breakfast will be available with the hotel staff serving each guest. Upon arrival, please check in, proceed to the buffet while maintaining 6’ between other guests.  Coffee will be located on each table. We will continue to follow all State & Federal CDC guidelines and suggested protocols, and will respond accordingly.

Registering for this Event:
Registration closes at 3:00 PM on June 14, 2022.

Refund Policy:  Your RSVP is requested by June 8. Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers, but fails to attend or who cancels after June 8.

Ticket Prices:
Members: $45 each | Non-Members: $55 each
Prices increase by $10 after June 8

MEREDA’s Morning Menu Breakfast Event is sponsored by Norway Savings Bank and BerryDunn

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Bridges, Broadband, & Roads:  MEREDA to Host Spring Conference on What the Infrastructure Bills Means for Maine

On May 24, 2022, the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) will host a dynamic and forward-looking conference on how the recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will affect Maine’s economy. Facilitating a multifaceted discussion, MEREDA’s Spring Conference brings together a line-up of exciting speakers and panelists to explore the impact this influx of federal money will have on our state.

“There are so many industries that will be touched by the Infrastructure Bill. The scale of opportunity and the scale of effort that will be required is astonishing,” says MEREDA President Joshua Fifield. “From important policy discussions to a look at where the rubber will actually meet the road, our Spring Conference brings together industry leaders and offers an opportunity for us to do a deep dive into this important topic.”

MEREDA will host keynote speakers Commissioner Heather Johnson from the Department of Economic and Community Development and Dale Doughty, Director of Planning at the Maine Department of Transportation. The conference will also include an economic impact presentation from Dr. Charles Colgan, a Senior Research Advisor at Maine Center for Business and Economic Research and former State Economist of Maine.

Complementing these presentations, the stage will later turn to a moderated discussion with four in-state experts who will share their perspectives. Panelists will include Scott Jason of Cianbro Construction, Michael Stoddard of Efficiency Maine, Greg Payne from the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, and Kerem Durdag of GWI Broadband. The panel will be moderated by Brain Curley, Architect and Director of Design and Construction at MaineHealth.

MEREDA will also unveil its 2022 MEREDA Index, which is underwritten by Eaton Peabody and supported by Katahdin Trust Co., MaineHousing, and XPress Copy; as well as recognize its 2021 Notable Project recipients at the Spring Conference. The conference will be held in accordance with  current CDC safety guidelines at The Holiday Inn By the Bay from 1pm to 5pm on Tuesday, May 24. A virtual attendance option is also available. In-person broker, appraiser, and architect attendees are eligible for Continuing Education Credits. This event is sponsored by NBT Bank, Cianbro, Treadwell Franklin Infrastructure, Efficiency Maine, Mainebiz, Maine Magazine, Premium Parking, Pierce Atwood, Sevee & Maher Engineers, People’s United Bank, Tangram 3DS, Redstone, Perkins Thompson, and AAA Energy Service Co.. For more information, or to register for the conference please visit www.mereda.org.

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It’s a good time to review your IT security plan

by Joshua Fifield, CPCU, AAI, Vice President, Senior Account Executive, Business Insurance Agent, Clark Insurance

We have been experiencing unpredicted cyber liability claims since the start of the pandemic, from ransomware to social engineering fraud to cloud jacking, etc. It’s a good time to review your IT security plan especially as a rental property owner and property manager. You don’t have to be a retailer processing thousands of electronic transactions per month to have a meaningful exposure to the theft of personal information. If you have names and social security numbers of current, former and  prospective tenants, then you are at risk, even if you don’t store them on a computer.  Physical theft of a laptop, hard drive, cell phone, tablet or even paper files can lead to a breach. The most common way a ransomware attack starts is opening an infected email. And storing your data on the cloud may not save you either as most contracts don’t provide you with any remedies should they get attacked or suffer a breach.

Once you have a ransomware attack or a breach of your personal identifiable information you need a forensic specialist to determine the extent of a breach and determine next steps, including notification to all those affected, public relations and how to get your information unencrypted. It also may be necessary to offer a year or more of credit monitoring to be sure that there is no attempted identity theft. In the end, the average cost of all this continues to grow; for example it used to cost approximately $200 to notify per affected party. Then there is the possibility of a lawsuit brought against you by the affected parties for damages associated with a breach. Loss of earnings, emotional distress and suffering are all possibilities and expensive.

You don’t want to have to figure this out on your own. You can transfer your risk to a Cyber Liability product with a suite of coverages and risk management services. Its starts with an application and the application’s questions will help you better understand your risk Unfortunately the bad guys are one step ahead of the best technology. Firewalls and anti-virus software are great but already since June, Cyber Liability carriers now require even stronger controls be in place, including MFA – Multi-factor authentication is required for any remote desktop log-in…

If you aren’t getting answers that make sense, we at Clark Insurance can help.

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Maine Contractor Licensing and Regulation Fails Again in the Maine Legislature

By Michael R. Bosse, Shareholder, Bernstein Shur

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

LD 1977, a proposed bill titled “Registration for General Contractors for Home Improvement and Construction” was reported out as “Ought Not To Pass” on March 7, 2022, by the legislative committee holding hearings on the proposed bill. In legislative parlance, that means that the bill has “died” in committee. This means that efforts to pass any kind of registration or licensing requirement for residential contractors will have to await a future legislative effort.

LD 1977 was reported by Senator Curry of Waldo and would have required annual registration by residential contractors in the state, whether operating as individuals or corporations. The bill also would have required residential contractors to report minimum basic information to consumers, including information about the company, its insurance, past bankruptcies, and prior complaints against the contractor. The proposed bill exempted subcontractors, as well as a host of other regulated professions such as architects, engineers, plumbers, and those working in the oil, propane, and natural gas market.

Despite wide reporting in the media of troubling situations involving residential contractors and homeowners, the bill faced steep opposition, which ultimately led to the negative committee vote. Those voicing opposition to the bill’s passing argued that either the proposed law would not stop residential contractor fraud, or that it would adversely affect the construction industry. The Mills Administration did not support the bill, arguing that the bill would create another hurdle for those attempting to become contractors. Others argued that it would increase the cost of construction work, or that it would increase the already high price of homes in Maine.

As a result, the law governing home contractors remains as-is for now. The Maine Home Construction Contracts Act, passed largely in 1987, governs any home construction contract over $3,000 and requires certain provisions to be present in any residential contract. A violation of the Act can result in both a civil penalty as well as a claim of unfair trade practice under Maine’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. Both statutes must be enforced by action of the homeowner in civil court. In a few high-profile matters, the Attorney General’s Office has brought action against contractors for a group of homeowners.

The existing framework continues to place a high premium on homeowners performing their own due diligence prior to working with a home contractor or giving a contractor a deposit for work. When things go badly, your best option remains to contact a lawyer and get apprised of your rights for your unique situation.

Original article published on March 29, 2022, https://www.bernsteinshur.com/what/publications/maine-contractor-licensing-and-regulation-fails-again-in-the-maine-legislature/ 

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Has COVID made a permanent shift to Maine’s real estate market?

By Dava Davin, Founder + CEO, Portside Real Estate Group        

Maine’s residential real estate market (condos + single family homes) was a $8.7 billion market in 2021, a 22% increase over 2020. Units traded remained mostly the same, but the price increases were staggering.  Will these prices stay at this level, will they continue to increase at this rate? If we look back at Maine’s history we see that the median home price  was $100,000 in 1998, it took 19 years, until 2017, to hit $200,000. And then just five years later in 2021 the median price topped out at $299,000. So what once took 19 years to accomplish (home prices to rise $100,000), most recently took just five years! In the last 10 years home prices rose 76%, the previous decade there was still a solid increase but at 22% it paled in comparison to what we have seen in recent years. Real estate prices will always go up over time, however the most recent rate of acceleration will moderate.

Seasonality + Market Expansion

Before the pandemic we always saw a very seasonal Maine market peaking with the most units selling in August and the lowest amount of units selling in February. During the last two years we saw a longer selling season and the most units selling in October resulting in a two month extension of the peak selling season from June until October.

The median home price in Southern Maine (Cumberland + York County) in 2021 was $419,000 and in the other 14 counties it was only $235, 000.  35% of the units sold in Maine  were in Cumberland + York County and that translated to 49% of the volume, basically half of the $8.7 billion is being transacted in Southern Maine

What we see across the board in Maine is over asking selling prices and very low days on market. This shows a strong market throughout the state and opportunities in areas outside of Southern Maine.

Sky High Prices

I mentioned above that the medium single family home price in Southern Maine is $419,000. What is a buyer getting for that median price? They are purchasing a 3 bedroom home with 1.5 baths, depending on the location, they will get more or less land and potentially a garage! 

In the last year home prices rose 20% and the year before they rose at almost 14% statewide. As Southern Maine prices get out of reach for Mainers, folks will move to more rural areas which will help build communities and businesses, this could turn out to be a great side effect of the pandemic for Maine!

More Realtors

This hot market has driven more agents as well! There are A LOT more realtors!

The National Association of Realtors reported  a record number of agents in 2021. 180,000 new agents entered the industry with virtually no increase in listings nationwide.

We have more real estate agents in Maine as well, but it has not affected our veteran agents’ careers. They are selling more than ever even with the enhanced competition. Since pre pandemic days, Maine has 14% more agents in the mix but  58% more agents are selling $4 million or more a year, 120% more agents selling $10 million or more and almost triple the amount of agents selling $20 million or more annually.

The market is tricky as each property is bound to have several bids, the seasoned and well trained agents are able to navigate that to ensure both buyers and sellers are being represented in the best way possible.

Looking Forward

2021 has been a wild ride for the real estate industry and these trends will no doubt carry over into 2022. As we continue into this broader, more expensive market, I am inspired by the hard work and dedication of Maine’s realtors, the Mainers that are committed to Maine and the fresh faces that are choosing Maine!

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With PFAS, shocking headlines are just the beginning 

By Keith Taylor, L.G., P.G.,  Technical Lead and Senior Environmental Geologist at St.Germain

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), widely known as “forever chemicals,” are threatening communities here in Maine and across the United States. We are going to bring you beyond the headlines to explain what they are, why they’re a big problem with a difficult solution, and where we’re headed next. Let’s start at the beginning.

What are PFAS and where are they found?
PFAS are a family of complex compounds primarily consisting of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

PFAS can make materials stain-resistant, waterproof, and/or nonstick, and can be found in things like nonstick cookware (e.g., Teflon®), stain resistant sprays (e.g., Scotchgard®), water resistant apparel (e.g., Gore-Tex®), and many other common household items ranging from nail polish to microwave popcorn bags.

Foams made from PFAS are also very effective at fighting petroleum product-based fires, and have been used extensively by many fire departments, airports, and military bases.

Unfortunately, “forever chemicals” have the same lasting impact on the environment and the human body. Instead of breaking down, they actually bioaccumulate over time. While the potential health effects are not conclusive, we do know PFAS are very persistent in the environment and are often detected in soil, water, and in the human body.

When it comes to humans, EPA findings suggest that PFAS may:

Affect the developing fetus and child, including possible changes in growth, learning, and behavior

Decrease fertility and interfere with the body’s natural hormones

Increase cholesterol

Affect the immune system
Increase cancer risk

During the 1980s and 1990s, studies found PFAS in a large percentage of blood samples from non-occupationally exposed people around the world. By 2002, the primary manufacturers in the United States began to phase out their PFAS use, and the process was completed in 2015.

But, that’s not the end of this story.

In the news and here to stay
According to The National Law Review, “the PFAS litigation thus far has centered on lawsuits filed against PFAS manufacturers for environmental cleanup and remediation, with some lawsuits against these companies for personal injury claims.” With a quick online search, you can see what’s happening right now around the United States – with some contentious legal battles up ahead.

Here in Maine, we’ve had some disturbing recent news:

Chemicals are turning up in well water across the state at levels 300 to 400 times higher than the federal health advisory level. Source

In 2020, state regulators found PFAS levels more than 150 times higher than the state’s milk standard on a Fairfield dairy farm that had used contaminated sludge as fertilizer. Source

A Fairfield couple discovered that biosolids spread on the same nearby farm contaminated their (and their neighbors’) well. State well tests found 12,000 parts per trillion (ppt) of one known-problematic PFAS called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and 12,800 ppt of another, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). For context, the EPA health advisory level is 70 ppt and Maine’s newly-passed state limit is 20 ppt. Source

We may see even more headlines up ahead, since Governor Janet T. Mills just signed a law broadening the definition of allowable legal cases alleging damage or injury from PFAS. Now, they can be filed up to six years after the harm was or could reasonably have been discovered.

A complex problem with some common sources
PFAS are so widespread because they start out in lots of places. Here’s some typical sources where they are found:

Biosolids: As defined by the EPA: “Biosolids are a product of the wastewater treatment process. During wastewater treatment the liquids are separated from the solids. Those solids are then treated physically and chemically to produce a semisolid, nutrient-rich product known as biosolids. The terms ‘biosolids’ and ‘sewage sludge’ are often used interchangeably.” Since biosolids were largely considered beneficial to agricultural land and reclamation sites (i.e., mining sites), they have been used in many places, especially in central Maine with State approval. Unfortunately, many biosolids spread across the land are contaminated with PFAS.

Well water: In the Fairfield case, experts say chemicals in biosolids (legally used as farm fertilizer) leached into the groundwater for decades – causing the crisis in this community today.

Factories: Smokestacks can emit PFAS; and depending on wind patterns, the chemicals can travel to new communities and contaminate the ground.

Specific industries: Certain businesses (including car washes and ski shops) were higher PFAS users than others. When sites of these businesses – or even neighboring properties – go up for sale, they require close inspection, especially since banks typically require assessments of nearby areas. Additionally, all military bases have used PFAS for firefighting tests, especially Air Force bases concerned about planes catching on fire, and many local fire departments have done the same.

The solution is complicated
Identifying PFAS can be tricky, and their persistence can make site remediation difficult.

As we speak, some affected towns in New Hampshire are spending millions of dollars on new water systems; and the State of Maine is also stepping up. In July 2021, a state law requiring manufacturers to report their use of a class of toxic chemicals, and to phase them out by 2030, came into effect. Maine also has a new statute requiring land and groundwater tests where sludge has been spread.

St.Germain can help businesses and property owners tackle the first steps of site assessment: Site evaluation and water source evaluations. Our experts in contaminant geochemistry can keep you a step ahead of the headlines, with fluency not just in a few of the best-known PFAS, but in the 36+ that we know can impact environmental and human health. We understand how these contaminants behave, and we can help you plan next steps should any exist on your property.

Original article posted on February 17, 2022 can be found here:  https://stgermain.com/pfas/?utm_medium=email&_hsmi=204264306&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–qtG1JUgZc941ZhvBgyGKLMoptSURHhCFoIriL2dHjDuhqioDpQp_wskgGxciCNQuWCTe_1LyDi8k6KeqOwg_WGBGPHA&utm_content=204264306&utm_source=hs_email

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Midcoast Maine is having a moment.


By Dave Holman, MBA, Associate Broker – ReMax Riverside

On January 20th Dave presented the “Midcoast Maine Market Forecast” at the Maine Real Estate & Development Association’s (MEREDA’s) 2022 Annual Forecast Conference. Below is a recap from his presentation.

Midcoast Maine is having a moment. The triangle of Brunswick, Topsham and Bath experienced steady growth from 2014-2019, leaving the housing market hot, rents rising, new companies opening and jobs getting posted and filled by locals and non-locals alike. Then the pandemic hit and we collectively inhaled as we expected the sky to fall in both the economic and health realms. After much pain and even deaths on the health front, the economy has paradoxically boomed. 2020 and particularly 2021 witnessed an almost exponential expansion of job growth, construction and activity that the towns are racing to keep up with. In short, everybody wants to work and live here but there’s not enough room.

Let’s start with an amazing turnaround. The suburbanization of the 1950s-1980s gave way to urban renewal from the 1990s-2019.  Portland went from the gritty port town of our youth to the foodie and condo mecca of today. The pandemic not only spurred an exodus from the cramped close quarters where outbreaks spread fast but also ignited a remote-work explosion where people kept their urban jobs but worked from pristine environments place like Merrymeeting Bay. Last year, New York State saw negative 1.6% population growth and Massachusetts saw negative .5% growth. People skedaddled the big cities. It will come as no surprise to you that Maine saw its highest growth in recent decades, up .7% in 2021. The urbanization trend in New England and nationally has turned on a dime, people are fleeing to so called “zoom towns” with high quality of life and this trend shows no signs of stopping in 2022.

We’ve all heard the bittersweet story of Midcoast residential real estate prices jumping up 21% last year, causing many locals to throw their hands up and many out of staters to plunk down cash offers. What you may have missed is that multifamily apartment prices are up an astonishing 48% per unit and commercial/industrial is up an eye-watering 64% year over year. This is not just cannabis growers and greedy landlord folks, this is genuine population pressure and job growth being poured into a small market with minimal construction over the past decade. Rents for a one-bedroom apartment that averaged $838 in 2018 stood at $1348 at the end of 2021, representing 62% growth in 3 years. The midcoast is experiencing an affordability crisis because new units are extremely expensive to build and slow to bring online.

But there’s good news too. Local governments are guiding growth into designated areas and establishing design and sustainability guidelines for new developments. The hot market is bringing exciting new opportunities to town like the new Martin’s Point facility in Brunswick, the new hockey rink and Market Basket in Topsham and a new River Walk in Bath. Bowdoin College is building Maine’s first ever mass timber (think modern post and beam made with laminated trusses) buildings that will reduce their carbon footprint by 75%. Entrepreneurs are bringing new businesses to town like Maiz, a Colombian street food restaurant and Animal House, an all-natural pet supply store. As this slice of the midcoast develops and expands, locals are focusing on quality, not quantity; preserving historic downtowns while renewing badly needed infrastructure like bridges and looking to see if the future stays hot or calms down.

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MEREDA is planning its 2022 Annual Spring Conference on May 24, 2022 at the Holiday Inn By the Bay.

Save the Date! The Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) is planning its 2022 Annual  Spring Conference on May 24, 2022 at the Holiday Inn By the Bay.

Infrastructure 2022: Bridges, Broadband, & Roads: What the Infrastructure bill means for Maine’s real estate economy.

No matter what party you are affiliated with – there has been talk in the last decade by the federal government of the need for a widespread investment in America. The recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act addresses the need to rebuild roads, bridges, water/wastewater, critical housing and support and expand overall connectivity – be it physically related to transportation as well as broadband access. The roughly $1.2 trillion bill contains an estimated $550 billion in new spending above baseline levels. This spending touches every sector of infrastructure, from transportation and water to energy, broadband, and the resilience and rehabilitation of our nation’s natural resources.

Join your colleagues and other professionals at MEREDA’s 2022 Spring Conference, meet and greet clients and learn about the impact these dollars will have on Maine and the region as the federal and state government disperse these funds. We’ll also unveil the 2022 MEREDA Index, as well as recognize our 2021 Notable Project Recipients!

To learn more and to register either for In-Person or Virtually, click here.  Registration closes at 4:00 PM on 5/23.  Registration Opening Soon!

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MEREDA’s Morning Menu – The Rise of Suburban Housing Development

With political pandemonium at Maine’s urban and economic capital, developers flee to the suburbs in search of yield.  

Josh Soley, President of Maine Realty Advisors, will sit down with Mark McClure of GenX Capital and Nate Green & Chris Marshall of Salt Marsh Capital on April 14, 2022 to discuss why these prominent developers have decided to focus on Sanford, Yarmouth, Cumberland, and other towns outside of our metro-area.

These panelists will discuss the incentives and the drawbacks associated and potentially give us a glimpse into their investment strategy.

This Morning Menu Breakfast Event is Sponsored by Norway Savings Bank.

Click Here to Register Now

About the Event:

April 14, 2022
In-Person — Masks Required

Buffet Breakfast: 7:30-8:00 am
Program: 8:00-9:00 am

Holiday Inn By the Bay
88 Spring Street
Portland, ME

Registering for the Event: Click Here to Register Now

PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED!

No Walk-ins will be allowed.

Registration Fees:

Members: $45 each
Non-Members: $55 each

Prices increase $10 after 4/7

MEREDA’s Refund Policy:
Your RSVP is requested by April 7. Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers, but fails to attend or who cancels after April 7.

** SAFETY PRECAUTIONS **

MASKS ARE REQUIRED: To protect the health and safety of our attendees and presenters, we request that ALL ATTENDEES wear a mask for the duration of the event, unless eating or drinking, and strongly encourage ALL ATTENDEES to be vaccinated.  

A buffet breakfast will be available with the hotel staff serving each guest. Upon arrival, please check in, proceed to the buffet while maintaining 6’ between other guests, and go directly to your table. Coffee will be located on each table. 

We will continue to follow all State & Federal CDC guidelines and suggested protocols, and will respond accordingly. Updates will be posted on our website.  

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