Maine Land

2016 Waterfront Land Sales Big Improvements

What a difference a year has made for Maine waterfront. Coming into the end of 2016 it appears that the waterfront land market is heading in the direction of a sellers market. The indicators are a 20% increase in the number of waterfront land sales in the past 12 months as compared to the 2015 numbers and an average market time reduced by nearly 50 days . Depending on the part of Maine you are in you are seeing prices, that were flat in the beginning of 2016 caused by an excess of inventory, now starting to creep up a little.

Factors in our markets contributing to the increase in sales are a combination of a number of things. Asking prices being lowered by sellers who have realized that the values of the mid 2000's are in many cases unobtainable, low interest rates offered by some of Maine's land lenders and owner financing increasing in popularity.

We are seeing new lakefront, riverfront and other waterfront parcels in both approved subdivisions or divisions of existing properties coming into the market. Strong interest from buyers both prior to and after the presidential elections leads me to believe that waterfront prices will continue to increase slightly in 2017 assuming that inventories continue to dwindle.

Is it time to sell your land? All market areas are different, give us a call and we can give you an idea what your property might be worth on the market today.

To Post or Not to Post Your Maine Land

Maine has a long tradition of landowners allowing reasonable public access to private lands. As a Mainer I want to thank all of those land owners who allow this. I do not post my land as we also enjoy using lands of other landowners who also allow access for recreation on their lands.

If you wish to keep your land for your own use, Maine does protect the landowners rights to privacy. Title 17A Section 402 explains how the landowner must post their land with signs or paint to legally restrict access over their property. Signs or paint must be within 100 feet apart and be visible so that a potential intruder can see the restricted access. Signs must be specific as to the restriction ie. no trespassing, access by permission only, no hunting etc.

Painting is the easiest way to post your land, a vertical purple painted stripe 1 plus inch wide on trees 3-5 feet above the ground means access by permission only. These stripes need to be no more than 100 feet apart and need to be maintained so that they are conspicuous to any person who may approach your boundary lines.

A verbal warning to a trespasser is also a legal means of enforcing your property rights. If you confront a hunter on your land you have the right to inspect their hunting license to determine who they are, if they refuse they have violated Maine law. If convicted they can loose their hunting rights for a year and possibly forfeit their firearms to public auction.

If a hunter wounds a game animal which then enters your property the hunter does not have the right to enter your property to retrieve the animal. If you are concerned about the access please contact the local game warden and allow the hunter to retrieve the animal to prevent the waste of the game.

We are often asked by landowners that if they post their property to restrict access if they can still legally hunt their property. The answer is yes. The landowner does still need to purchase a Maine hunting license and abide by all applicable hunting rules and regulations. We are also asked about landowner legal responsibility for keeping their property safe for recreational users. The answer is no as long as you do not willfully or maliciously fail to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity.

We hope this helps Maine land owners manage the land they way in which they want to. To understand that if they wish to keep it for just themselves that is a right that they are entitled and protected. For those who leave their land open for public use this Mainer and many others say thank you and respect your property rights.

 

How To Get a Maine Property Tax Abatement

The mention of property taxes often stirs controversy among our citizens. The fact is most of us in some way use the services that tax money pays for from educating our children to keeping infrastructure maintained. If you do not agree with how the money is spent get more involved in the process. This post is for those who think they are being unfairly taxed for the property they own in Maine not for a philosophical discussion about the pros and cons of our current tax system.

The Maine constitution requires that taxes on property be based on just value and fairness. Just value is usually considered fair market value. Fairness is determined by how all property owners are treated as a group. To challenge a perceived excessive property tax the land owner in Maine has options for relief.

A potential option for abatement is to challenge how the tax assessor determined the property's value. Get a copy of your tax card from the town and review the methodology of the assessor. Compare the valuation of your property to a recent appraisal and/or review recent sale data of similar properties. If you see a big discrepancy in current market value compared to the assessed value you may have grounds for abatement.

Another option for abatement is to prove that your property is being assessed unfairly. Similar to researching just value, the taxpayer must do research before requesting the abatement. What you need to look for are a number of similar properties with large difference in valuation. The tax assessor is allowed some variations as it is not practical to fully analyze every property in the town every year. To have success you need to show that your valuation is more than the average of similar properties. If just one or two properties are found with slightly higher or lower valuation you probably do not have a case for abatement.

If after your review of all this data you are convinced that your property is being taxed unjustly or unfairly you should meet with the tax assessor to discuss the difference. If you can convince them of the error in just valuation or fairness, they may adjust the valuation to reflect your findings. This should be done before the taxes are committed for the tax year as assessors will most likely refuse to adjust any valuations after that date. If they do refuse your request and you are convinced you are right a more formal request will be necessary.

Under Title 36 MRSA, Sections 583, 706, 841-849 and 1118 a Maine property owner who thinks their taxes are higher than they should be can file a formal application for abatement of property taxes with the local assessors within 185 days after the tax was committed to the tax collector. You can find more details on the process online at https://www1.maine.gov/revenue/forms/property/pubs/bull10.pdf

Comments

  1. William R Brown on

    Thank you, McPhail Brothers, for the timely tutorial, i will refer to the information before taxes are due, hopefully. Cheers, from william Monday, March 28th, 2016

    Maine Forest Service Assistance Programs

    I just attended an educational class on forestry issues taught by State Foresters Terri Coolong and Oliver Markewicz. This informative session covered topics of the Maine Tree Growth Tax Program, Maine Forest Practices Act including liquidation harvest laws, foreign investment in agriculture land rules and other information.

    I believe it is a little known fact that the Maine Forest Service can provide free technical information to those who own forestland in Maine or those considering purchasing it. Maine has 10 district foresters who cover our state offering services ranging from educational programs to limited one on one contact with individual owners.

    The district forester will help you understand sound forestry practices that when implemented should add long term value to your land investment. A one on one session can give you a better understanding of your land and should help you be more informed when working with an independent forester to formulate a forest management plan. To find the district forester who covers the town your property is located check out the link here to The Maine Forest Service.

    Comments

    1. Peter McPhail on

      Our district foresters are a great resource for anyone who is looking to buy land in Maine and is new to owning Maine land!!
      • Mike on

        Great information for timberland owners in Maine. Thanks
        • Amanda on

          Great article & tips!

          On The Trail to Increasing Your Land Value

          There is something special about a walk in the woods. Inspecting the tracks of forest animals, listening to the distant "wack-wack-wack" of the pileated woodpecker, watching a busy beaver putting the finishing touches on her dam, these and many other woodsy events are just a few reasons why we own land. To better care for and use our property we enjoy creating and improving multi-use trails. Building trails improves our outdoor experience, while at the same time increases the lands value.

          Before starting the physical work of trail building take some time to mentally plan the construction. What are the intended uses of the trail? Is it for accessing a location such as a hunting stand or scenic place, hiking and cross country skiing? Do you intend to have vehicles on it like ATV's, snowmobiles,  tractors, mountain bikes or others? How much traffic will your trail support? Asking yourself these and other questions will help you design a trail that meets your goals and will save you time and money.

          Google Earth and the Maine office of GIS provide free solutions which can be used to plan and map your trail system. If you are not familiar with these programs see our post on using Google Earth. for some basic information. The topographic overlay from the Maine office of GIS in conjunction with Google Earth is especially useful.

          Once you decide for what purpose and where you want the trail now is the time to get out on your property and scout out the best route. Online mapping got you a good start but it won't show you all the variations in the land like micro elevation changes or the best place to cross a creek for examples. Priorities when choosing the best route should include minimizing soil disturbance, protecting riparian areas and require a minimal amount of future trail maintenance. When done well trails enhance the recreational and economic use of the land today and for years to come.

          You will need a few tools to create your trail. The following will get you started and may be all or more than you need.

          • Flagging Tape
          • Lopping Shears
          • Rake
          • Shovel
          • Lightweight Chainsaw
          • Brush Saw
          • Lawnmower

          If I am out alone clearing trails to be used primarily for hiking, a good pair of shears and safety glasses are what I will bring. When making larger or wider trails power equipment is a big time and back saver. If you plan to use power equipment be sure to get good safety gear to protect yourself from injury.

          Building trails is hard but rewarding work. So get out there and enjoy your land.

          ARE YOU PREPARED TO BUY MAINE LAND

          Are you planning on buying a parcel of Maine land this year? If so, you need to know a few things before you start, especially if you are not from here and/or have never purchased land before.

          FINANCING

          Before you fuel the car or buy the plane ticket, have you considered how you will pay for it? Obviously, if you have cash this item can be checked off your list. If you intend to get a loan to complete the purchase, you should know it is not the same process as getting a home mortgage. Most US banks do not do land loans. So if you planned on using the BIG bank you have a credit card or your home loan with, save yourself a lot of time and money by asking if they will finance raw land. Ask them questions like:

          • What down payment would be required?
          • Is there a limit on how many acres they will accept?
          • Do they do business in Maine?
          • Do they have approved appraisers and title companies in Maine?
          • Is your credit score high enough for their land loan program?

          If you find out they will not do the loan, you just saved yourself hundreds of dollars in travel expenses. There are a few solid lenders who finance raw land in Maine. So if you need financing give us a call to get the list. Also, many sellers will consider owner financing their lands.

          GREAT EXPECTATIONS

          Maybe before calling the lenders, you should ask yourself why are you buying land? What is your intended use of the property? Did you get all the information on your target properties to be sure the ground will meet your needs and desires? For example, if you intend to use the land for raising cattle, is the land zoned for that use? If not, you are going to waste time and money coming to see it. Make a list of your concerns and get the answers before you come, a few example as follows:

          • Is the zoning in line with your intended use?
          • Is the property in a tax program that prohibits your intended use?
          • Are the soils OK for your use?
          • Does the property have utilities to it? If not and you require them, how far and how much to extend them?
          • Does the property have year round access?

          CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT

          The next item of preparedness that I nearly always forget to tell my customers before they get here is the appropriate clothing to wear for a visit to Maine. If you are looking at forested land, for example, and are unfamiliar with Maine, the forest here can be very dense and the ground uneven. Here is a checklist of the minimum gear you should have with you when you come.

          • Good pair of boots - waterproof if you have them
          • Sun or safety glasses to protect your eyes from tree branches
          • Layered clothing options for changing weather conditions
          • A waterproof coat

          If you are working with one of us to show you the land, the above list will get you by. If you intend to do some exploring on your own, think about the following items:

          • A good compass
          • GPS
          • Maps of the areas of interest
          • Backpack
          • Water bottles
          • Snow shoes in winter

          CUSTOMER OR CLIENT

          The final question to ask yourself is are you confident enough to represent yourself or should you hire a broker to help you with the process. If you have the time you can do your own research and represent yourself in the process, but if you do not have time a good land broker is worth a look. Maine does require a real estate agent representing a buyer as a client to have a written buyer brokerage agreement, so if you do decide to go this route be sure to carefully review the contract to see what the agent's and your obligations are to each other.

          How To Choose A Logger

          Is it time to harvest your timberland in Maine? If so and you do not have the experience, equipment or desire to do it yourself, do you know how to find someone to do the harvesting for you?

          Choosing a logger is a very important process in the management of your timber investment. Done properly, harvesting will pay a return on investment with competitive stumpage checks, improve the growth of the remaining trees, protect sensitive areas, provide habitat for game animals, open views and possibly make road improvements. An improper harvest may do just the opposite of the above. So how do you go about finding a logger you ask?

          If you have a forest management plan you should start with your Maine professional forester who prepared your plan. He or she should know some reputable loggers who they could refer to you. Once you have a couple of names ask some questions.

          • Ask for references from other land owners that the logger has worked for. Call them and ask how the job turned out.
          • Ask for their certifications. The better loggers in Maine will have been through the Certified Logging Program (CLP) or the Master Logger Certification (MLC). Both of these credentials show that they have some working knowledge of proper forestry and safety techniques.
          • Ask them to show you that they are insured for workers compensation in case of an accident. You do not want an injury on your land to become your problem.
          • If you can, visit a couple of their past jobs sites to see how they left the land.
          • Once you have decided on a contractor get a signed contract for the job. This will give you and your logger have a clear understanding of how the job will be done and what and when you will be paid for your trees.

          If you get an unsolicited offer in the mail or over the phone be cautious. That logger may or may not be good at what they do, to be sure use the above questions.

          As always I would recommend that your independent forester be part of the process. Their assistance in the process will most likely pay dividends for the future of your forest.

          For more information on timberland see http://investintimberland.com/

           

          Maine Tree Growth Tax Confusion

          If you have been planning to purchase a parcel of land in Maine you have probably heard of tree growth tax status. These are a few common misconceptions about the program that we often hear from potential land buyers and land owners.

          "I can't cut any trees if I have the property in tree growth". False

          The tree growth tax law was enacted by the Maine legislature to allow land owners to maintain their property as productive woodland to supply Maine's wood industry. Cutting trees is what this tax law was designed for.

          "It is too complicated." False

          As a new owner you will have a few obligations to get the tax benefit from tree growth but it is a relatively simple process. You need to hire a consulting forester who will help you create a management plan, file some forms and then follow your plan.

          "I don't want to give up control of my land." False

          While you do need to follow some rules, the rules allow for the owner to make their own decisions in managing the lands as long as they use sound silvicultural practices.

          "I can't build on the land if it is in tree growth." Somewhat True

          Once a property is enrolled in tree growth tax status you will need to apply for a change of use that will be acceptable to the town but a penalty will be imposed for the change of use. Also, portions of a property can be left out of tree growth at the time of enrollment to allow for penalty free building sites.

          For more information on Maine's Tree Growth Tax see:

          http://www.maine.gov/revenue/forms/property/pubs/bull19text.htm

          Maine Deer Hunting Food Plots and Stand Placement

          We had a successful hunting season in Maine for 2015.  Everyone in our hunting party saw deer, had some good naps on stand and just enjoyed being in the Maine woods in Hancock County.  In the post you will see a photo of my 10 year old nephew, Gavin, enjoying a nap on stand. Gavin bagged his first turkey in May and bear in October, but the whitetails were intolerant of the snoring sounds coming from his blind.

           

          20151127_135600

          Snoozing in the blind

           

          Throughout this year we worked on clearing new hiking and ATV trails throughout the northwest section of our family woodlot.  Along these trails we installed two ladder stands on a ridge of mature maple and pine trees overlooking one of the small babbling brooks that meanders through our land.  From our stands we also have a view of Blue Hill Maine and Mount Desert Island and parts of Acadia National Park. Even on the days we don't see deer the views are nice.

          The trail work paid off as my brother harvested a nice 8 point buck that dressed out just under 190 pounds.  To make the job of getting the deer out of the woods, our neighbor Nick and his 3 year old son Colby drove their ATV out our new trail and drug the deer out for us and even hoisted the animal onto our truck.  Thank you Nick!

          We have found the deer like to use our new trails along with other game animals.  To smooth out some of these trails and remove stumps we plan to have Jeremy Guellette of Ground Perfection Specialists spend a day or two with his grinder cleaning things up for us.  The machines you see clearing the sides of I-95 north of Lincoln is Jeremy's company.

          Once cleaned up we will seed down the trails and plant some small food plots.  Our forester also recommended cutting back the 7-10' poplar in areas.  This will cause the poplar to reshoot new seedlings and will be a "natural" food plot.

          We enjoy working and improving our woodlot.   Owning land in Maine has many benefits but to me one of the tops is the therapy of doing physical labor and discovering new areas of your Maine land and how to best take advantage of the topography and other features.

          A Maine Tiny House For Sale - It's In The Trees!

          Tiny homes are all the rage across the nation. I wonder if this is a trend driven by a desire to simplify our lives? No matter the reason a tiny home certainly has some upsides like reduced ownership cost from heating, electric, maintenance and property taxes.095

          For those interested in the tiny home concept, we have a newly listed property in Springfield, Maine you need to see. Not only is this home tiny, but it is built as a tree house. The multi-level home is perfect for a simplified primary residence or the ultimate get-away second home or sporting retreat.

           

          The 544 square foot tree house is perched in a pine grove on 23 +/- acres fronting for about 1,000 feet on babbling Wrights Mill Brook. The land for sale with this unique home is a mixture of forestland, fields, apple trees and meadows. The home is located on a secondary road and is the last home on the town maintained section of the road. Privacy should not be a problem here.FB_IMG_1444066599213_resized

           

          Springfield is located on the edge of large forestlands with lots of game and within a 10 minute drive to the boat launch of the Grand Lake chain of lakes. The lakes include Junior Lake, Sysladobsis Lake, Scraggly Lake, West Grand Lake as well as other lakes and ponds. For the outdoor enthusiast there is no better location. ATV/Snowmobile trails can be reached from the property.

           

           

          Call 800-286-6164 and ask for Traci Gauthier for a chance to see this one of a kind tiny home.