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April 30, 2017

Buyers 'from away' spurring sales of inns and B&Bs

Courtesy / The B&B Team Glenmoor by the Sea sold March 31 to a Rhode Island buyer.
Courtesy / The Swan Agency Sotheby's International Realty The Bradley Inn, in New Harbor, recently sold to a California buyer.

KENNEBUNK — There have been quite a few inn and bed-and-breakfast transactions over the past half-year.

“Maine has been incredibly active,” said Rick Wolf, a partner/owner of The B&B Team in Kennebunk.

Many buyers appear to be coming “from away” in search of a new career path.

For one of Wolf’s recent transactions, Glenmoor By the Sea — with 33 guest units on 10 acres, at 2143 Atlantic Highway in Lincolnville — the buyers, who hailed from Rhode Island, moved to Maine after the purchase. The deal closed March 31, with Wolf and colleague Dana Moos representing both buyers and sellers. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Another recent transaction was the Bradley Inn in New Harbor, which closed March 30 for a sale price of $2.125 million. The buyers, represented by Wolf and his firm, are from California.

Alyssa Bouthot, a broker with The Swan Agency Sotheby's International Realty, represented the sellers. Located at 3063 Bristol Road toward the tip of the Pemaquid peninsula, the building dates to around 1890, and is in excellent shape due to renovations through the years. There’s also a restaurant on-site.

“We listed it in September 2016 and it went under contract in January, so it wasn’t on the market very long,” she said. “It feels very authentically Maine, being on the rocky midcoast coastline and away from the bustle of Route 1.”

Interviewed by the Bangor Daily News, buyers Laura and Tony Moskwa said they had tired of corporate life and constant travel, and wanted to do something together.

Those thoughts are similar to that of many buyers, said Wolf who, with his wife Janet, felt the same way when they purchased the historic Captain Fairfield Inn in Kennebunkport, in 1999.

“I was a corporate ladder-climber coming out of college,” he said. “I wanted the next promotion, the bigger job, and I got there and I didn’t like it. Even though I was well-paid, it came down to, if I’m going to work this hard for somebody, it’s going to be for us.”

Wolf said recent buyers include others seeking to get out of the corporate rat race or simply wanting to change careers.

“We see educators, business people, attorneys, you name it,” he said.

Other motivators, he said, include buyers who want to work with their spouses, or have a business of their own. Coming from well-paid careers, buyers have the means to handle the required purchase prices. Buyers also tend to have a love for providing great experiences to people, he said.

“We kid about it, but you either have the hospitality gene, or you don’t,” he said. “If you have it, you can have a wonderful business.”

These days, aspiring buyers can take workshops to help them decide if they want to move forward. Workshops offered by The B&B Team cover topics such as finding and acquiring an inn, financing, valuation, business planning, marketing and operations. Last year, he said, the company had about 275 attendees, with 46 who became clients. Some 25 to 30 ended up buying inns or going into a contract.

“If you’re going to spend hundreds of thousand of dollars or more, you want to know what you’re spending it on,” he said.

What's motivating sellers

Reasons for selling, Wolf said, include getting older, wanting to retire or wanting the flexibility to travel to see the grandchildren.

“When the grandchildren are out of school, it’s in the summer — and that’s when most innkeepers are busy,” Wolf said. “Grandkids are very compelling as a reason to sell. Other sellers have done it for 15, 20 years and say, ‘This has been a great run, but we’re going to travel or reinvent ourselves one more time. Health comes into play, too.”

Inns changing hands

Other recent transactions include:

  • Graycote Inn, Bar Harbor, sale price $1.25 million, closed April.
  • Atlantic Birches Inn, Old Orchard Beach, list price $775,000, closed in March, to buyers from Andover, Mass.
  • West End Inn, Portland, list price $1.295 million, closed in January, to a buyer from New York City.
  • Pilgrim’s Inn, Deer Isle, list price $1.39 million, closed in February, to buyers from Norristown, Pa. It was first a home built in 1793 and began operations as an inn in 1890.
  • Atlantean Cottages, Bar Harbor, 7,000-square-foot Tudor Revival architecture, dating back as a private home to 1903, list price $1.8 million, closed in February, to buyers from Washington, D.C., and Maine.
  • Ullikana in the Field, Bar Harbor, sale price $2.15 million, dating back as a summer home to 1885, closed March 7.
  • Higgins Beach Inn, Scarborough, sale price $1.5 million, closed December 2016, revamped and due to reopen Memorial Day weekend.

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