The intent of this site is to provide relevant news, listings and information on the Portland real estate housing markets for homes.

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Maine Earthquakes: Is your home safe?

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When we think of earthquakes, we think of dramatic natural disasters that are capable of shaking whole communities to their knees. The images that stick in our minds are those of dismay along the San Andreas Fault and Haiti, both having long histories of tremors. Though these examples represent extreme cases, the earthquakes at the subject of this blog are far more mild: Maine earthquakes.

Yes, Maine has earthquakes, as does much of New England. I’m sure if you were in Southern Maine on the evening of October 17, 2012, you felt one of the strongest quakes (4.0) in the state in years. Unlike California, Maine does not sit on the end of a plate tectonic, rather it is smack-dab in the middle of one. The dramatic quakes we are use to hearing about take place along the convergence active fault lines. If you look at a map that shows plate tectonics, and set it against a map of earthquake frequency, it will become apparent that Maine is in no danger of having a “Big One”.

The average Maine earthquake comes in at about 2.0 on the Richter scale. Most of the time they go unfelt, only showing up on seismic instruments. Larger tremors manifest as just a wobbling, as many people brush them off, thinking it’s just the washer on spin-cycle. The most recent earthquake on October 17, 2012 was the largest ever in Southern Maine, and lasted only for a few seconds. No damage was reported but many people were startled, to say the least. Check out the below photo that shows a Waterboro’s Town Council meeting during the quake, not far from the epicenter.

See video here

Though the council people in this photo look like they are in imminent danger, they were not. The rumbling felt during this quake was only strong enough to knock a cup off a shelf, not destroy a building. Later inspection of Maine’s bridges found that zero damage was done to the infrastructure. So if you’re looking to buy a home in Maine, earthquakes should be the very least of your worries. If you have concerns about living a slow-paced life, close to mountains and the ocean, then Maine isn’t your cup of tea.

Due to Maine’s cold winters, there is also another way for the ground to shake. During especially chilly winters, cryoseisms (or frost quakes) are a possibility. Caused by an abrupt and deep freezing of the earth, frost quakes produce ground tremors and audible sounds, just like earthquakes. They are most common during the part of the winter when temps drop from above freezing to below zero. A lack of insulating snow cover can exacerbate this phenomenon though there is no real danger.

A Brief History of Portland Maine: From the Beginning to Post-Second World War

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In 1658, a group of men and women from the Massachusetts Bay Colony made their way north into the Province of Maine where they established the town of Falmouth.  Successfully withstanding much conflict with Loyalist and the Wampanoay Tribe, the city of Portland emerged as the capital of the new State of Maine in 1820.  Since its induction, Maine remained a controversial state.  It was a key political battleground during the Abolition Movement, and also was the first state to prohibit the sale and use of alcohol for recreational purposes.

Prohibition was championed by Neal Dow, a Portland resident who also served as state legislator, two-time mayor, and candidate to sit as the US President.  Dow had apparently pushed the Prohibition agenda while still storing large quantities of alcohol in a facility within the city.  It was said that the hoard was strictly used for mechanical and medical purposes, a detail which was consistent with the law, and also overlooked by most media outlets at the time.  Word got out about the alcohol, and on a June afternoon in 1855 around 2,000 people gathered around the building in protest; this would be known as the Rum Riot.  A large portion of the protesters were Irish immigrants.  They saw Prohibition as an attempt to muffle their culture and they came to lash out.  After alcohol prohibiting laws were dissolved, and Neal Dow passed away, his home (on Congress Street) was left to the Women’s Temperance Union, a group dedicated to promoting alcohol-free lifestyles.

It was during the time of Prohibition when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow gained recognition as one of the country’s greatest literary minds.  As he was a Portland Native, most of his works were inspired by life in New England.  The cold winters, abounding fauna, and flora are all regular features in his writings.  Today, his childhood home still stands just steps from Portland’s Monument Square.  Maintained by the Maine Historical Society, it is open to the public throughout the year, and is kept in its original 19th century condition.

From the turn of the century, Portland became one of the largest ports in the country, having all European imports pass through its harbor.  The new thriving community had at their disposal an extensive rail and trolley system which serviced destinations throughout the city.  Riverton Trolley Park was a popular hang out at this time.  With a large casino, riverside amphitheatre, and scenic promenades, it was “the place to be” for many years. Soon the city’s train and trolleys became obsolete, thanks to the invention of the automobile and new gambling laws.  The Trolley Park ruins remain today where visitors are lead through walkways along the banks of the Presumpscot River on outer Forest Avenue .

Because of Portland’s influence as the busiest and closest port to Europe, it gained recognition as a strategic location during the War of 1812, the Civil War, as well as the First and Second World Wars.  Fortifications were built and manned during each of these events, most of which still stand today.   Among the most visible of these structures is Fort Gorges (see right) on Hog Island.  The large fort was constructed in 1861 by the Army Corps of Engineers around the same time the Civil War was winding down.  Though it took over 4 years to build, the fortification was rendered obsolete by new advancements in artillery and bomb making.  During World War II, it was used to store submarine mines.  Then in 1960 it was given to the City of Portland and named a National Heritage Site.  Located in the middle of Casco Bay, Fort Gorges can be seen from most points in the Old Port and East End, as well as coastal portions of South Portland.  Accessible only by private boat, Hog Island is a public park with many places to explore and take in the the history.

Further urban development has transformed Portland into the wonderful city it is today.  Beginning as booming port town, it has recently turned into a cultural hotspot, attracting artists and artisans from all around. This blog post is but one in a series that will cover the legacy of Portland city.  Those looking to live in Portland should check out MyMaineProperty.com to browse current listings.

(Photos courtesy of Doug, Philip C, and Bill Lapp)

1st Q 2012 Market Update for Portland ME Homes

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Portland Maine housing markets saw a total of 70 single family homes sell in the 1st quarter of 2012. This was a 17% higher sales volume than last year during the 1st quarter.  Homes in Portland sold at a median price of 220K, which was equal to the 1st quarter of last year and 10% higher than during the previous quarter.  The median number of days on the market for Portland ME single family homes was 91 days.

With lots to do in Portland this spring, there is something for people of all lifestyles. The Herrigel Group are local experts on greater Portland area neighborhoods and communities and helping you find your new Portland home. For more information on Portland Maine real estate contact John Herrigel by phone at (207) 650-5383, or by email at johnherrigel@gmail.com.

March 2012 Update for Portland Maine Homes

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Maine Grown SeedlingsIn February 2012, 162 homes were on the market in Portland ME. 17 of these sold, making an identical sales volume to the month of January, and 19% lower than last year at during February. The median price of homes in the Portland Maine real estate market was 235K – up 9% month over month. The average home sold was on the market for a median of 75 days. This was down 29% compared to January.

If you are fortunate enough to already live in Southern Maine, you will surely have noticed last week’s unseasonably warm weather in the 80’s! While this is far from the norm for March weather in Maine, March is nearly at a close, and warmer weather will soon be on its way. This can be an exciting time of year – great for thinking about starting a garden, so if you are feeling motivated to do a lot with a little space check out this article on vertical gardening.

Visit The Herrigel Group online, or contact John Herrigel directly by phone at 207-650-5383 or by email johnherrigel@gmail.com to learn more about real estate in Southern Maine. John and the Herrigel Group specialize in coastal Maine and southern Maine real estate.

Portland Maine Condo Market Update for March 2012

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Spring time song birdsDuring February this year, 12 condos were sold in the city of Portland Maine. This was a 25% decrease in sales volume compared to last year at this time, but a 9% increase from the month to month. The median price for Portland condos had decreased by 6% month over month, to 170K. Condos that sold in Portland were on the market for an average of 106 days, up from last year at this time.

If you are interested in finding the best among Portland Downtown Condos, visit the Herrigel group on google+ or contact John Herrigel directly by phone at 207-650-5383 or by email at johnherrigel@gmail.com.

February Falmouth ME Housing Update

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During January 2012, a total of 9 residential real estate sales were made in Falmouth Maine. This is a 29% increase in the number of homes sold both month over month and year over year. At 145, the average number of days on the market had increased by 99% month over month. The median price point was 395K for Falmouth ME homes sold. Inventory has remained the same – with 123 Falmouth Maine homes for sale in both January and February.

The coastal Maine town of Falmouth is just minutes north of Portland, Maine. If you would like to learn more about real estate listings in Falmouth and the greater Portland area, visit the Herrigel Group on google+ or contact John Herrigel at johnherrigel@gmail.com or by phone 207.650.5383

Portland Housing Update for Feb. 2012

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HouseDuring the month of January 2012, 28 single family homes and condominiums sold in the Portland Maine housing market. This was a 7% decrease from the previous month as well as a 20% decrease in sales volume since last year at this time. The median price point was 188K, which was slightly lower than last month. The average number of days on the market for Portland homes and condos that sold in January was 103 – up from last month.

Portland is a composite of several unique neighborhoods, each with unique and interesting features. To learn about the Back Cove real estate market or find the Portland neighborhood that interests you most, visit the Herrigel Group on facebook or contact John Herrigel directly by phone at 207-650-5383 or by email at johnherrigel@gmail.com

Love Portland Maine

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Valentine HeartLife in many cities can seem all too impersonal – the tradeoff for added opportunities and conveniences can be the absence of community. Especially in sprawling cities with long commutes, where an average day may look like an hour or more commute into the city for work, the reverse home, picking up the kids from school or day care, and off to afternoon activities – all this before dinner time! It can be difficult to find the time to do anything out of routine and February is just the time to shake things up.

With the winter holidays a memorable distance behind us, and spring still weeks ahead, Valentine’s Day is the perfect holiday to try something exciting. Fortunately, Portland ME is the perfect back-drop for such activities.

Residents of Portland typically love their city and it shows: Portland Maine was the first city to fall victim to the Valentine Phantom in 1976. This Portland tradition of posting valentines decorations throughout public spaces has spread into many cities across the nation. Portland is a city with a great sense of community – it is possible to work, live, and send the kids to a great school all in the same neighborhood.  This is the perfect environment for creative and vibrant ideas to flourish, so no matter if you are single or enjoying some quality time with your sweetheart, you’re bound to find some excitement in Portland this Valentine’s Day.

To learn more about buying a home in Portland Maine, visit the Herrigel Group at www.mymaineproperty.com . The Herrigel Group are experts in Portland area homes and condos for sale.

Scarborough ME 2011 Real Estate Wrap-up

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The real estate market for homes and condos in Scarborough Maine saw a total of 217 homes sold during the 2011 year.  This reflected a 2% drop in sales volume compared to 2010 levels, as 221 homes sold in the 2010 year.  Scarborough Maine homes for sale sold at a median price of 304K during 2011, up slightly from both the 2010 and 2009 year.

Visit the Herrigel Group website at www.myMaineProperty.com to learn more about homes in Scarborough ME and other southern Maine towns. The Herrigel Group specializes in coastal and southern Maine homes and condos for sale. John Herrigel can be reached directly: email johnherrigel@gmail.com or call 207-650-5383

Portland Piers Condos

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Portland Piers CondosPortland Piers Condos provide a rare opportunity to live in downtown Portland on the waterfront. One of two condo complexes directly on the water in Portland’s Old Port neighborhood, Portland Piers feature excellent views of Casco Bay. Portland Piers condos feature modern amenities including covered parking, central AC, and more.  Portland Piers units range in price from 275K to 450K with an average price of 300K.

The Herrigel Group specializes in coastal and southern Maine homes and condos for sale. To learn about the specific features and regulations at Portland Piers condos, and other condo associations in the greater Portland ME area contact John Herrigel directly at 207-650-5383 or by email at herrigelgroup@gmail.com