Since its inception, MEREDA has continued to make progress on behalf of the development community addressing the challenges and issues relating to Maine’s real estate activities. MEREDA’s strength has always come from the support and participation of its valued members. While we look forward to the beginning of a new fiscal year, it is important that we take a moment to look back and reflect on our accomplishments, and take time to thank you, MEREDA’s members, (330+) for your investment in the Association over the year. Your continuing support is critical to our ability to maintain and increase our advocacy work, programs and related services, which are all vital to development interests in Maine.
It hasn’t been “business as usual” these last 16 months since COVID 19 shut down the world. That said, we have had a very busy year, and we are excited to share with you our “Year in Review 2020 – 2021”.
MEREDA’s Three Overarching Priorities. MEREDA continues to serve its members’ mutual interests in responsible development by advocating for fair and predictable regulation, hosting events rich with educational and industry insight, all the while providing opportunities to network with a diverse group of real estate professionals.
Legislature Set to Adjourn, Sending Right to Food Question to the Voters
The First Special Session of the 130th Legislature is set to adjourn on or around July 19, 2021. That is roughly a month after the anticipated adjournment date of June 16, 2021. Some of that delay can be traced to budgetary negotiations, but much of it stems from procedural timing around a series of vetoes issued by Governor Mills. Unlike her first two years in office, Governor Mills was more free with her veto pen this year and legislators had to return to consider those vetoes (vetoes on major issues were all sustained). The general effectiveness date for all non-emergency legislation is 90 days following the date of adjournment sine die – we therefore expect new, non-emergency, laws to take effect in mid-October.
Among the many resolves passed this session was one that will send a referendum question to voters. Specifically, voters will be asked if they support amending the Maine Constitution to include a “right to food.” The impact of this amendment would be to ask more questions than it answers, and likely lead to years of litigation. MEREDA will send more information on this referendum question in the early fall.
MEREDA’s Strong Engagement Helps Defeat Bad Landlord/tenant Proposals
MEREDA successfully worked to help defeat several bad proposals at the Legislature this year. Specifically:
• LD 418, which would have imposed a graduated real estate transfer tax (and disproportionately impact commercial real estate). This bill was vetoed by Governor Mills at the urging of the real estate community, and the veto was sustained by the Legislature;
• LD 1143, which would have effectively ended the concept of a tenancy at will. This bill was defeated on the floor in the House and Senate;
• LD 1590, which would have treated short-term property rentals as commercial property. This bill was defeated on the floor in the House and Senate;
• LD 1255, which would have disallowed evictions for 90 days following the COVID-19 State of Emergency. This bill was defeated on the floor of the house and senate.
• LD 1296, which would have disallowed evictions during any future state of civil emergency proclaimed by the Governor. This bill was defeated on the floor in the House and Senate.
These bills (with the exception of LD 418) were all premised on the notion that private property rights can and should be easily further restricted in the interest of public policy, without consideration for the potential to fundamentally undermine our system of private property ownership. We were pleased to help successfully defeat them this year, but are on the lookout for future similar efforts, and will work hard to defeat them.
MEREDA Aids in Successfully Enacting CPACE Program, Commission to Study Local Land Use Laws
MEREDA was pleased to join with The Nature Conservancy, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) and other industry allies to support LD 340, which will enact a Commercial Property-assessed Clean Energy Program (CPACE) in Maine. The bill was enacted as Public Law 2021 Chapter 142. The new law will enable new financing options for developers looking to install or retrofit a commercial property with clean energy infrastructure. MEREDA engaged closely with many of our members to educate on and learn about this proposal, and we were pleased to support its passage into law this year. The law will take effect sometime in mid-October.
MEREDA will continue to remain diligent in protecting its members’ interests. Our members represent a critical pillar of the state economy, and we will continue to advocate for policies that are fair, practical, and predictable even as we navigate a new, post COVID-19 environment. We encourage all those who are interested in rolling-up their sleeves and helping to further MEREDA’s mission and vision in policy-making to contact Shelly R. Clark, MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations at email@example.com.
Education & Insight
Morning Menu Meetings, Networking Events, Conferences – Paramount to MEREDA’s existence, is the offering of top-notch educational programming and must‐attend learning events for members involved in commercial development and ownership in Maine, and pre-COVID 19, welcoming hundreds of commercial real estate experts for some of the best networking in Maine. In March 2020, that all changed and MEREDA responded as most organizations did, by postponing our regularly scheduled events. We quickly transitioned to virtual events and continued to keep our members up-to-date on evolving real estate and development events in light of the changing economic landscape. We were able to offer 13 virtual Morning Menu Breakfast events over the past 15 months! No small feat, as we quickly learned that virtual events were not any easier to pull off than in-person events! We are excited to get back to in-person events this fall and are working on those details now.
Successful Forecast and Spring Conferences – Last summer, it was anyone’s guess as to what the world would look like in January 2021. We anticipated that our annual Forecast Conference & Member Showcase would obviously look and feel a lot different than in years’ past, we knew we wouldn’t be able to gather our usual 1000 attendees in one room, and that the event most likely be in some streaming format. We managed to pulled together a rescheduled virtual “Spring” Conference that Fall, and even tackled what we thought was impossible, by virtually hosting our 2021 Forecast Conference in January, getting over 500 viewers, and our 2021 Spring Conference in May with over 200! Our members really came out in droves to support our efforts and we are grateful for their sustained support!
MEREDA Index – MEREDA is always keeping its finger on the pulse of the state’s real estate market. The Spring 2021 MEREDA Index reflects a solid performance in the real estate market coming in at 113.3.
Over 230 real estate insiders registered to gather virtually MEREDA’s Spring Conference on May 20th. As part of the Conference, MEREDA released its 15th edition of the MEREDA Index, a key economic indicator for the state of Maine. While the Index saw a dip during the first half of the year as the economy began its sharp decline related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Index shot upward in the second half of the year, resulting in an overall increase of 2.8% over the annual average of 2019. Beyond the data, the individual components of the Index—commercial, residential, and construction—help paint a fuller picture of a historic year in Maine real estate.
“To say 2020 was a year like no other is an understatement, and when we zoom in on the Maine real estate market we see a truly remarkable year,” says Josh Fifield, MEREDA President. “We have all been watching as the residential market rocketed off the charts. We all felt the impact of vacant office and retail spaces in our communities, and we saw new construction projects forge ahead with increased demand. This is the story the 2021 MEREDA Index tells,” continued Fifield.
The Maine Real Estate Insider –Published by Mainebiz, this weekly e-newsletter provides a valuable source for all things real estate in Maine – including recent transactions, promotions and valuable and informative content for you and your business. It is MEREDA’s pleasure to support our members and the health of this important Maine industry by continuing to provide weekly content to this online newsletter which features news and information from MEREDA as well as from Maine’s real estate community.
MEREDA relies on members like you to help us provide the weekly content for MEREDA’s sidebar. We encourage all members who have an interest, to contact us with any questions or story ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org. Articles should be informational / educational items, trends, etc. that pertains to real estate and that would be useful to the membership or general reader.
The opportunity to connect with a diverse network of real estate professionals and related service providers is a valued benefit of the MEREDA membership. Over the years, many beneficial business relationships have begun at one of our annual social events, conferences, breakfast forums, and even through committee work. Although the Coronavirus pandemic put the kibosh on being able to gather with friends, family, and colleagues, it looks like better days are ahead! MEREDA is anxious to get back to providing these important get-togethers and have rescheduled our 35th Anniversary Gala originally slated for March 2020 to November 4, 2021. We hope to see you there!
DevelopME – Our DevelopME Committee, comprised of our emerging leaders, is now under new leadership and making plans to resume its regular meetings and coming up with some new and exciting opportunities for special projects to cultivate and connect MEREDA’s future leaders within the organization.
Student Scholarships – Although we weren’t able to host our “Strikes for Scholars” Bowl-a-Thon Fundraising Event again this year due to the pandemic, we instead opted for a Virtual Trivia Night and our members turned out once again to support the students! The event consisted of 3 rounds of questions from Current Events to Pop Culture, to a “Name that Tune” category, followed by team networking. Prizes were awarded to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place winners.
We are pleased to announce that MEREDA was able to provide 7 $1250 scholarships to the Maine Community College System (MCCS), as well as 1 $1250 scholarship to the College of Science, Technology & Health at the University of Southern Maine. Thank you, MEREDA Members! MEREDA began its scholarship program for students in the building trades and professions 9 years ago and has continued to grow and support the program. Since the fundraiser’s inception, MEREDA is proud to have raised and donated over $133,000 in scholarships helping over 103 Maine students.
Thank you to our faithful members! Your continued support ensures that we can continue to provide value and remain the most active nonprofit helping to promote responsible development in Maine. If you are not yet a member, but would like to learn more, please contact the MEREDA office. We wish you an enjoyable summer and look forward to seeing you this fall for more great events beginning in September.