WALTHAM — Out-of-state buyers are snapping up lots in a newly revived subdivision on Graham Lake, according to deed records.
The lots are on an approximately 1,000-acre Waltham property that was sold at auction in 2018, according to past reporting in The American. The parcel was among more than 7,000 acres belonging to the estate of Dale Henderson, the late logging contractor from Orrington, that were sold. The Graham Lake property was purchased by Maine Woodland Properties, a corporation with addresses in Sarasota, Fla. and Portland, according to deed records.
According to Maine Woodland Properties’ website, lots in the subdivision, called Sunset Shores, sold out in a recent grand opening event. It was not clear how many lots were offered for sale during the event. The website advertises 6½-acre lots with “lake access” at $29,900. The price of “direct lakefront” lots is not listed.
A 135-lot subdivision on the property off Route 179 was permitted and approved prior to the 2018 auction, according to the listing with Keenan Auction Company.
The American was unable to reach a representative of Maine Woodland Properties for comment by press time. On its website, the company bills itself as “one of Maine’s premier land developers, offering gorgeous, buildable land to the public for over 40 years.” The company specializes “in buying large tracts of highly desirable, undeveloped land and dividing it into prime residential homesites” for year-round or seasonal buyers.
Sunset Shores features five miles of shoreline, private roads and utilities, a 422-acre common area and will have a lakefront pavilion and fireplace, according to the company website.
The eight real estate transfers listed for Waltham in the Oct. 1 issue of The American were all sales in the Sunset Shores subdivision. Only one of the buyers was from Maine. In the paper’s Sept. 24 issue, nine real estate transfers were listed in Waltham, with seven of them being sales by Maine Woodlands Properties, including sales for another subdivision, Oxbow Point. Those seven sales were all to out-of-state buyers.
So, what does the flurry of lot sales mean for the town of Waltham? According to Selectman Steve Jordan, it is unclear what impact the development will have on the town.
“Some of the prices were pretty high,” said Jordan, noting that the current subdivision is a continuation of the plans Henderson had for the land. While an increase in the land’s valuation could bring a tax revenue boost, Jordan says that the flip side is the added value also could result in a loss of state revenue sharing for education costs. “I think that’s a big concern a lot of people have,” he said.
Once buyers start building on the lots, Jordan said that the increase in work for local contractors will be a plus.
Maine is seeing a surge of interest from out-of-state property buyers, according to a Sept. 22 press release from the Maine Association of Realtors. While the pandemic hit the real estate market hard early in the year, it may be having the reverse effect on sales now, partially due to “out-of-state buyers seeking Maine’s quality of life and safety,” said Tom Cole, the association’s president.
“In August of 2019, Maine had 482 single-family homes purchased by out-of-state buyers. In August 2020, that number was 707,” Cole reported.
“I think everybody should live in Maine,” Graham Lake resident Ed Damm said with a laugh, adding, “as long as things are safe for [the] water and septic” and proper building regulations are followed.
While the lake has been in the news recently due to fluctuating water levels and controversy over Black Bear Hydro Partners’ application to relicense its dams on the Union River, Damm thinks news coverage of the issues has been adequate for out-of-state buyers to do their research.