It's a sellers' market for Maine lodging properties this summer

BY Laurie Schreiber

Courtesy / Daigle Commercial Group
Courtesy / Daigle Commercial Group
The Country Inn in Rockport sold to Matt Barter, the owner and operator of Glen Cove Inn & Suites in Rockport.

The recent sales of the Augusta Inn in Augusta and Country Inn in Rockport signal strong interest in Maine’s lodging market from both out-of-state and Maine-based buyers.
The Daigle Commercial Group in Portland brokered the sale of the 67-room Augusta Inn at 18 Edison Dr. The hotel was purchased by Jay Somnath LLC of New Hampshire from Mays Investment Corp. of New Jersey, which owned and operated the property for seven years, originally as a Motel 6 and most recently as an independent hotel.
The listing broker was Nick Farrell, who coordinated with Roger Daigle the sale of the property with the buyers. Transfer of ownership took place on June 20.
The Augusta Inn was listed for $1.6 million.
The Daigle Commercial Group also brokered the sale of the Country Inn, at 8 Country Inn Way in Rockport. Matt Barter, the owner and operator of Glen Cove Inn & Suites in Rockport, purchased the hotel from Camden Rockport Motor Inn and its owners William Hahn and Stephen Liberty. The 46-room hotel sits on nine acres. Amenities include an indoor swimming pool, sauna, leased mini-golf course and restaurant. Roger Daigle and Nicholas Farrell coordinated the sale with the buyers and sellers. Transfer of ownership took place in late May.
The Country Inn was listed for $3.4 million.
In March, the same sellers of the Country Inn, William Hahn and Stephen Liberty, sold the Cedar Crest Inn in Camden. Like the buyer of the Country Inn, buyers of the Cedar Crest, Jill and Ted Hugger, were also local innkeepers who already owned the Cod Cove Inn in Edgecomb. Daigle and Farrell brokered the Cedar Crest Inn transaction on behalf of the buyers.
Daigle said at the time that there weren’t enough lodgings on the market in Maine to satisfy demand.

“There are currently more buyers than sellers,” Daigle told Mainebiz in March regarding the Cedar Crest Inn transaction. “We have qualified buyers who are looking to move into Maine, and others looking for second properties, who have done well with their first property. The industry is changing so that there are more multiple-property owners than there used to be years ago, when people would focus on a single property, make it their home and their livelihood and that property was sufficient to support the entire family as family enterprise and lifestyle.”
Daigle reiterated that observation this time around, too.
“We’re out lining up new listings because we’ve sold the majority of our inventory,” he said. “In some cases, the listing is snapped up as it becomes available. In other cases, when our client, the seller, instructs us to price the property more aggressively to test the market at a high end of the valuation range of our BOV [broker’s opinion of value], then it takes longer to sell. If the market does not respond favorably to the higher asking price, we then advise the seller to consider a price reduction. In most cases, the seller will support our efforts if they are genuinely motivated to sell.”

Daigle said he’s seeing more buyers reaching into Maine from out-of-state than before, and there are more in-state buyers looking for Maine properties, too.
Why the surge of buyers? It’s partly because there’s a shortage of inventory out-of-state as well, particularly for franchise properties.
“Therefore multiple-property hotel owners are seeking Maine opportunities for hotels with 50 rooms or more to expand their portfolios,” Daigle said.
The buyers of the Augusta Inn are undertaking extensive renovations to the property, in pursuit of an affiliation with national franchise Days Inn, Daigle said. Its location — along Interstate 95, at the crossroads to Maine’s tourist destinations, and near government offices — is expected to leverage commercial and tourist business, he said.
Kumar Patel, who lives in New Hampshire, is one of four investors backing the Augusta Inn’s buyer, Jay Somnath LLC. Reached by phone, Patel said investment for renovations is expected to be $1 million.
Patel said he’d been observing the hospitality market in Maine when Daigle brought the property to his attention.
“I said, ‘This will be one of the best for what we need,’” he said, adding that the inn is well situated for both business travelers and vacationers.
While the structure is in good shape, the property needs work.
“It’s a little rundown,” he said, adding that renovations will be performed in phases and will include new furnishings and brand-name mattresses, plumbing system updates, and retrofitting of amenities like a breakfast room and fitness center. The inn will remain open through renovations.
“We’re working with a general contractor to get things finalized and put together a schedule,” he said.