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The $6.625 million purchase of a midcoast island estate set a record for residential sales in Hancock County.
“When we close it will be the largest sale in Hancock County in the past 12 months,” Michael Banks of RE/MAX By The Bay in Portland told Mainebiz just prior to the closing this past Monday evening.
The estate, named Faraway, dates back to 1905 and is located at 82 Common Lane on Greening Island, which is a boat ride of a few minutes off the coast of Southwest Harbor.
RE/MAX By The Bay’s David Banks Team and Mia Thompson from the Knowles Co. in Northeast Harbor co-listed the property.
The purchase price was over $500,000 above Hancock County’s previous high, said Banks.
Faraway consists of a 7,100-square-foot summerhouse designed by Horace Wells Seller of Philadelphia in the Arts and Crafts style, according to the Knowles Co. marketing brochure.
It’s on 4.4 acres with 1,500 feet of private shorefront. The property also has a two-bedroom guest cabin, storage sheds, tree house and deepwater moorings with a 130-foot pier.
The house has seven bedrooms, living areas, bathrooms, kitchen and pantry, large entry hall, formal dining room, open terraces and glass-enclosed porches.
Features include a Dutch door that leads a raised stone terrace, wood flooring, cypress paneling, exposed-beam ceilings, large windows with window seats, granite fireplaces, a built-in writing desk and mural panels hand-painted in 2005 in the dining room. The stairway has articulated wood banisters.
“The American flag waving from the top of Faraway’s towering flagpole has been a beacon for MDI’s sailors and boaters for well over a century,” according to Knowles.
Will Fuller, an associate broker with the David Banks Team, said Faraway had been owned by the same family up until it was purchased in the early 2000s by Catherine Todd Bailey, a U.S. diplomat, and her husband Irving W. Bailey II, a financial services professional, who live in Louisville, Ky.
At the time the Baileys bought it, Faraway had no electricity.
“All of the lighting was candle light or lanterns,” said Fuller. “It was very rustic.”
The structure needed other updates.
“There was no basement,” he continued. “There was a crawlspace. They spent over half million dollars raising the house [to build a basement with a nine-foot-high ceiling.] They spared no expense when it came to trying to keep this historic house alive, but in a way that was respectful to its original design.”
The house has nine fireplaces and all of the chimneys needed to be rebuilt.
“Before the fireplaces were taken down, photos were taken and every stone was numbered,” Fuller said. “When they rebuilt them, they made sure all the stones were laid in their original location.”
Other updates included audio wiring and discreet speakers inside and outside of the house and electric power provided by a solar panel and battery storage system along with two diesel-fuel generators.
All told, the couple spent $10 million on the renovation, according to a feature in the Wall Street Journal.
The couple enjoyed Faraway with their children and grandchildren, but eventually decided to sell it as family members began spending time elsewhere, said Fuller.
“They weren’t using it enough to justify holding onto it,” he said.
The Baileys originally listed the property with another brokerage firm, starting at $6.6 million, said Fuller. But the listing didn’t get any traction.
RE/MAX By The Bay broker David Banks and his team took over the listing in 2019.
“The couple wanted David’s advice,” said Fuller. “David and I and Michael Banks went up to visit Faraway. We were blown away by what they had done there.”
Banks was brought on for his marketing expertise and connections throughout the U.S. and Canada, said Fuller.
Knowles was brought on for their local expertise.
They relisted the property at $6.5 million. A national marketing campaign included feature placements in numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal and Boston Magazine, production of a lifestyle video, and connecting with an extensive network of agents. Knowles handled local marketing and was responsible for showings.
After the initial campaign ran its course, the $6.5 million price also didn’t gain traction.
“That’s when the seller decided that, if the marketing is strong, it must be the price,” said Fuller, who noted that the multi-million-dollar value and the island location inherently limited the buyer pool.
“It’s very unique, as most island properties are,” he said. “So it’s a very narrow buyer pool.”
The price was lowered to $5.95 million and six or seven showings ensued.
Ultimately, a buyer came forward who was interested not only in Faraway but in two smaller nearby parcels that included a boathouse and cottage and were also owned by the Baileys.
“The buyer wanted to acquire those as well,” said Fuller.
The package came together for $6.625 million.
“The buyers are a family that recognized immediately that someone had painstakingly tried to maintain the integrity of how Faraway was originally designed,” he said.
Other properties in Hancock County are on the market at similar price points but haven’t sold yet, said Fuller.
However, the past year’s trend of soaring residential prices began to slow earlier this summer, he said.
“But it’s all relative, because it’s still stronger than it was pre-pandemic,” he said. “We’re not carrying as many listings as we usually do, but we’re putting listings under contract very quickly. So there’s still increased demand.”