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June 30, 2021

Biz Bites: KinoTek moves a third time; County homebuyers go to school

a group of five men and one woman sitting on granite steps in downtown Portland Courtesy / KinoTek Inc. KinoTek Inc., whose team is shown here, has moved into bigger quarters at 22 Monument Square as the company grows.

KinoTek, a local digital health startup that was formed in 2018 and won "Greenlight Maine Collegiate Challenge" in 2019, is moving for the second time in less than a year. The business, started by Justin Hafner and David Holomakoff, moved from a coworking space to 524 square feet in Portland's Monument Square last July.

The company outgrew that space even before the lease expired. Landlord Bill Stauffer, of Storrey Industries LLC, managed to find them 1,720 square feet in the same building. Samantha Marinko, the Boulos Co. broker who helped broker both moves, said putting a business into its first commercial space "is a monumental step in their early growth, and it’s really exciting to be a part of the process from the very beginning."

The KinoTek team also was pleased  with the process. “Samantha and the entire Boulos team were incredible throughout the search,” said Joey Spitz, KinoTek COO. “As a small business looking for our first office, we couldn’t have been more relieved to find a broker who was consistently communicative, trustworthy, and friendly. Professionals like Sam and Bill Stauffer believed in us and created opportunities for KinoTek.”

The move comes after the company in February announced it raised $600,000 in a pre-seed funding round that was oversubscribed. The company is using the money to launch its first product,, computer-vision technology that analyzes body motion. The company is one of six in the starting lineup of Northeastern University's Roux Institute Startup Residency in Portland.

COUNTY HOMEBUYERS LEARNING THE ROPES: Aroostook County Action Program says interest in the hoMEworks class for first-time homebuyers is at an all-time high. The June 26 session topped out at 40 participants.

That should be no surprise. Home sales in The County were 67.88% higher in May than they were in May 2020, with 230 single-family residences sold last month, according to Maine Association of Realtors. Median price has risen from $88,500 a year ago to $108,000.

The eight-hour home buyer education class, taught by industry professionals including lenders, home inspectors and real estate agents, offers resources for anyone who's interested, but it's also often a requirement by lenders for those who want to take advantage of a first-time homebuyer loan. The program provides information on MaineHousing's First-Time Home Owner loan program, which is administered by Machias Savings Bank in Aroostook County.

Broker Stephanie Beaulieu, of Fields Realty, of Fort Fairfield, said in ACAP's Weekly "ACAP Today" video update that the course is even more important with sales and prices so high, and lack of inventory making it a seller's market.

"Buyers need to understand that they need to be prepared with the best pre-approval offer they can qualify for," she said. First-time homebuyers should understand, too, restrictions that preclude buying foreclosed properties with the first-time buyer's loan, and similar requirements.

Greg Doak, a certified HUD housing counselor, said that the program also arms buyers with information that makes an impossible situation doable. One big aspect is it discusses how to work with sellers on fixes the property may need to be eligible for a loan. "It's not necessarily a barrier, just something that needs to be addressed," he said. 

Beaulieu said, too, potential buyers shouldn't despair. While it's a seller's market, she said, citing the rise in home sales, "Clearly the market is still moving."

A victorian home by the sea and a small clapboard cape
Courtesy /
Portland's most expensive home sold in May was at 50 Centennial St., on Peaks Island, and the cheapest was at 15 Cherry St., in LIbbytown.

THE PORTLAND VIEW: Things are moving a little more in Portland, too. Listings for single family homes in the city were up slightly, with 55 in May as opposed to 47 in May 2020, according to Benchmark Real Estate's monthly residential market statistics. Sales were up even more, with 58 single family homes sold as opposed to 28 a year ago.

Tom Landry, of Benchmark, said while it's too early to call it a trend, it could bode well for buyers. High prices have prompted more listings and some of the buyers who are getting tired of being blocked out are taking a break.

He said July and August are a good time for those who are still looking to be persistent. "I think buyers willing to forgo that summer weekend away might find a much easier market than this past spring and may avoid the bidding wars that are likely to return in the fall.”

The median sales price for a single family home in Portland in May was $479,250, up from $356,500 last year. Overall volume, including multifamily, condos and land as well as single-family homes was $60.6 million, up from $23 million a year go.

Portland's highest sales price in May was at 50 Centennial St., a 2,184-square-foot, five bedroom, two-and-a-half bath waterfront "cottage" on Peaks Island. Built in 1890, it sold for $1.4 million.

On the mainland, a 1,035-square-foot, two-bedroom, one bath cape in Libbytown, at 15 Cherry St. that needs a little TLC was sold for $215,000.

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