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August 28, 2017

First-time investor buys small mixed-use historic property in Bangor

Courtesy / Keller Williams
Courtesy / Keller Williams
Once a historic home and now a commercial/residential building, 151 Broadway in Bangor appealed to a first-time investor as a turnkey, moderately priced property.

BANGOR — Small commercial/residential properties are proving popular among novice investors, as illustrated by the sale of 151 Broadway in Bangor.

Christopher Cronin made his first real estate investment by buying a 4,016-square-foot building there that combines commercial and residential uses, paying $265,000.

Lynn Libby of Keller Williams represented Cronin and Michael Atienza of Magnusson Balfour represented seller, John A. Bradford. The deal closed July 14.

Built as a multi-family home in 1860, the two-story Federal style building, on a quarter acre, has a spacious first-floor office suite and two residential units, one that takes up the second floor and another on the first floor.

"It was an interesting purchase," said Libby. "We were hoping for a quick close, but because of the fact that it's a historic building, it took double the time to close."

Why?

"In Bangor, these types of properties are very few," she said. That meant it was difficult to find comparable properties for the appraisal. "There are very few mixed-use historic homes like this in the Bangor area."

This was a first-time investment for Cronin. Born in New York, he grew up in western Maine, graduated from the University of Maine, worked a while in Portland, then moved to Bangor to take a job as environmental manager at the Air National Guard base.

Like many transactions, relationship was important in this one. Libby and Cronin have known each other for years, through friends, and she helped him find the Bangor property.

"It's unique because it's not only in a historic building, but it's a mixed-use property right in the heart of downtown Bangor," said Cronin.

Both said that it can be hard to find a small mixed-use property, especially one in a historic home.

Both residential spaces are occupied, though the 600-square-foot commercial space is vacant. It was previously used by the seller, a doctor who had his medical office there, said Libby.

The appeal of real estate investment

Cronin said that investing in real estate is the smart way to go. With Libby's help, he's looking for other properties to invest in.

"I used to think it was all 401(k)s, but you need to invest in real estate," he said. "Real estate is always going to be in demand. And there's always going to be demand for mixed-use buildings in the heart of any city. So this was a great buy for my first investment."

The property's fair pricing made it easy to do the deal, added Libby.

The building is in excellent shape and has classic features like hardwood floors, built-in shutters, six marble fireplaces and evidence in the basement of what used to be a stable. The surrounding neighborhood is taken up by similar homes, once occupied by the wealthy.

"It's a pretty part of Bangor, and it's close to downtown," said Libby. "You can walk anywhere and you have public transit."

Cronin doesn't plan any major work on the property aside from landscaping the front yard, where the roots of some Japanese maples were starting to intrude on the sewer line and foundation. He said he'll also apply to the city for a change in parking restrictions, to add another residential unit and thus leverage a growing market.

"More and more people, both millennials and people looking to retire, are looking to move into the city," he said.

Passive income for younger investors

Seller's rep Atienza said small multi-use buildings are not necessarily hard to find on the market.

"But they sell really quickly, especially if they're priced right," he said.

Atienza also recently represented the seller of another small multi-use building. In a deal that closed Aug. 11, NK's Group LLC sold 311 Main St. in Biddeford — a 6,090-square-foot commercial/residential building — to T&P Properties LLC for $390,000. He said he's seeing a shift in investor demographics for these smaller properties. Older investors are stepping back, he said.

"A lot of investors of the older generation are looking to slim down their portfolios, and sit back and relax," Atienza said. "Which is great because younger investors are looking to start investing." The properties are a great source of passive income for next-gen investors who are paying for college or starting a family, he said.

"The next generation of investor is very hungry to invest in real estate," he said. "This type of property is good for new investors. As a first investment, they can gain that experience in how to be a landlord, and how to be a landlord for a property that's highly desirable."

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