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January 7, 2019
19 on '19

Real Estate: Realtor sees 2019 in historical perspective

Photo / Courtesy of Sue Spann
Photo / Courtesy of Sue Spann
Sue Spann, co-owner of RE/MAX Riverside Real Estate Co.

Sue Spann has witnessed good times and bad since she and her husband, Don, opened RE/MAX Riverside Real Estate Co. in 2002. In 2014, she thought the Topsham business "had hit its top end," with $125 million in sales.

"But we've seen improvement every year since 2012," she says, citing the 2017 sales total of $163 million. Now she's wondering how business can get any better for her 32-broker agency — and for Maine's real estate market in general. "It's going to be really hard for it to improve even more," she says.

But a decade after the Great Recession brought new construction in Maine "to a grinding halt," she's excited by its resurgence. "I love seeing the increase in new construction [Maine] is experiencing. That's a sign of a healthy market," Spann says.

She feels the Brunswick area is particularly well-poised to meet the demand for Maine real estate. The Portland market faces a "critical shortage" of inventory, she says, while new properties — such as hundreds of homes at Brunswick Landing, the redeveloped Navy air base — are coming online. "We see that people are appreciating the value of Brunswick, with its schools, a 30-minute commute to Portland, and the quality of place here," Spann says.

But is there a danger that Maine real estate is in the midst of another bubble that will burst, perhaps in the coming year? "I don't see that," says Spann. Unlike previous boom-and-bust cycles, she believes the current real estate market will withstand fluctuations in supply and demand. "This market can take care of itself. I see it being strong and balanced in 2019," she says.

Spann has a wait-and-watch attitude about how Gov. Janet Mills might affect Maine's real estate industry or the economy as a whole. But with nearly two decades of real estate experience, Spann tries to keep such unknowns in perspective. "I choose not to look for doom and gloom," she says. "And these days, how can you look at (Maine real estate) with anything other than optimism?"

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