A Connecticut couple’s $3.1 million purchase of an oceanfront home in the exclusive Loveitts Field neighborhood has shattered the price record for residential real estate in South Portland.
The sale of the John Calvin Stevens home at 2 Ledge Road is the most a buyer ever has paid for a single-family home in South Portland, according to the South Portland Tax Assessor’s Office.
Ronald H. Schroeder and Mary Pat Clarke of Greenwich, Conn., purchased the three-bedroom, 3 1/2 bath home July 1 from Charles and Tamera Pompea, whose mailing address is listed on tax records as West Palm Beach, Fla. The Pompeas bought the wood-shingle home in 2002 for $1.7 million.
South Portland’s previous sales price record was set in 2007, when an oceanfront home at 2 Bay Road – also in the Loveitts Field neighborhood – sold for $2 million. That home had been assessed at $1.7 million.
The Ledge Road home was built in 1928, and designed by Stevens, a legendary, 20th-century American architect.
Elizabeth Sawyer, South Portland’s long-time tax assessor, expressed some surprise over the sale price, which was 70 percent higher than her valuation of the property at $1.8 million.
“It certainly does not fit our assessment model,” Sawyer said. “We build a statistical model to predict what properties will sell for, and ours did not predict $3 million for that property.”
South Portland has about 6,000 single-family homes, and only 28 are valued at more than $1 million, according to the tax assessors office. The median sales price for South Portland homes runs about $225,000.
All the homes priced at $1 million or more are located on the east side of the city, along the coast. The neighborhoods cover Willard Beach, Danforth Cove and Loveitts Field, which borders Cape Elizabeth and is near the oceanfront mansions along Shore Road.
John Golden, a former Maine-based real estate broker for Sotheby’s International Realty, now sells oceanfront property in the Hamptons on Long Island, N.Y. Golden, who still follows Maine real estate, described the high-end South Portland sale “as a fluke.”
“The price seems extraordinary, though the house was certainly nice,” said Golden, who was familiar with the property, which has 90 feet of oceanfront.
“I think it’s a fluke, or perhaps the buyers thought it was a drop in the bucket compared to their home market” of Greenwich, Conn., he said.
Golden said he occasionally brings buyers from the Northeast to shop for coastal properties in Maine, because oceanfront homes are so much more affordable to similar properties in Connecticut and New York.
“Yes, $3 million is a pittance compared to the Greenwich or Hamptons markets,” said Golden, senior vice president with the Douglas Elliman real estate firm in New York.
“In fact, I’m coming up to Maine this weekend with billionaire clients from New York,” he said. “They’ve looked for years for oceanfront in the Hamptons… They simply don’t want to pay $50 million or thereabouts for an oceanfront house. The concept to them is absurd.”
In contrast to the Hamptons – long considered a playground for the rich – the residents of Loveitts Field seem to pride themselves on having a close-knit community where people guard their privacy, rather than flaunt their wealth. The neighborhood hosts yearly picnics and residents know each other by first name.
Outgoing City Councilor Kay Loring is building a home on one of the few remaining vacant lots in the neighborhood, on Bluff Road.
Portland lawyer Daniel Lilley owns a house at 2 Drew Road in nearby Danforth Cove, though he recently put his three-bedroom oceanfront property on the market for $1.9 million.
Joanne Soucy, wife of Spring Point Marina founder Bob Soucy, also has her Loveitts Field home on the market. She is asking $1.6 million for the Bay Road property, which has water views from every window.
But the $3.1 million home sale on Ledge Road is turning heads, even among the affluent residents in this neighborhood.
Marc Gup, a real estate broker who lives in the Loveitts Field neighborhood, said he took a client through the home when it was for sale. Gup described the house as “superior.”
“It absolutely is spectacular,” said Gup, who works at Keller Williams in Portland. “It is one of those homes where you get that, ‘Oh, my God, Wow!’ feeling when you walk inside.”
Gup argues that no matter the house – from a starter home to an oceanfront property – it needs to be priced competitively in the current real estate market.
“This house was under contract in less than a couple weeks,” he noted. By contrast, a nearby waterfront home on Drew Road, also priced at $3 million, has been on the market for several months without attracting a buyer.
He said that in Maine only about one multi-million-dollar house sells each month, and sometimes “it just comes down to how many people want it. But it has to be priced competitively and in phenomenal condition.”
Homes built along the coast tend to hold or increase their values because of their uniqueness and scarcity, Sawyer said. “They have had a tendency to increase in value more rapidly.”
Most other homes, including properties with ocean views, may have experienced a small drop in value because of the difficult economy.
“We’ve seen a slight decline, maybe 5 percent, which is really pretty minor,” Sawyer said. “Volume is down, but it is not down in a dramatic way.”
Her office is now putting together and analyzing data on recent home sales and prices.
“We’re not seeing an impact on the high-end properties,” she said. “The low-end properties are usually the first to hurt in a slow market.”