Friday, August 28, 2009

PRICE REDUCTION - Captain Briggs House in Freeport $795,000

Now offered at $795,000, Captain Briggs House has 7 guest rooms with private baths. The owners quarters is beautiful and very spacious in the renovated post and beam barn and offers some of the best space as owners quarters are concerned. There is a master bedroom with large bath (shower and soaking tub), living room, dining room, kitchen and loft, all located on the upper level in the barn. The first floor of the barn has a very large laundry room, storage room, powder room, access to the attached garage, guest room with private bath and separate entrance (still part of the owners quarters). In between the guest wing and owners quarters is the inn's kitchen and living/dining room. The property is located on a residential side street just two homes back off Main Street and the commercial shops, offering the best of location and solitude.

This is a great opportunity to walk into a turnkey operation and continue to build the business. Freeport is very active in its economic development and is always looking at ways to help the community.

Contact me for more details or to schedule a showing.

Property Photos on Flickr
Property Photos on Picasaweb
Virtual Tour

Pet Friendly Lodging...creating a niche...

How I arrived at this blog post: We had breakfast this morning at Cafe 2/Eat-a-Pita in Southwest Harbor. I love this casual cafe and have ever since we moved here. But being innkeepers, we were never able to go for breakfast (they closed at the end of October when we did) so I was excited to try it. And although this post is not about the food, I am compelled to tell you what I had because I love out of the ordinary. I had an omelet filled with roasted red peppers, portabello mushrooms, homemade pesto and local goat cheese. It was absolutely delicious!

But we're sitting outside on this fabulous flower filled patio on one of the most gorgeous days of our summer and I noticed doggie dishes filled with water. Several tables around had small dogs sitting by the table while their owners enjoyed the morning out. Bingo! Pet friendly lodging.

During my inn ownership I received numerous inquiries about bringing a beloved pooch to the inn. But for our particular inn, it was a "oh I'm so sorry, as much as we love pets, we are not able to accommodate them". Maine seems to have a large pet population and it's very common to see dogs along side their owners on the trails in Acadia National Park. There was recently an article in Woman's Day noting a couple pet friendly beaches in Maine.

But some of my listings would be ideal for pet friendly lodging, particularly those with individual cottages or spacious lawns:
Abbington's Seaview Motel & Cottages
Rockwood Cottages
Craignair Inn (they have 8 rooms in the "Vestry" building perfect for this use)
Wilson Pond Camps (details coming soon!)

Aspiring innkeepers could really tap into a niche market by offering pet friendly rooms or cottages. There may be a bit more of housekeeping to deal with, but the outcome could be very positive. You could also allow pet friendly accommodations in a property without cottages, such as an inn or bed and breakfast, especially if the rooms have exterior entrances.

So, after breakfast it was off to the tiny little Southwest Harbor farmer's market, then home and back to work...I was full with delicious food and inspiration...

Maine, the way life should be...

Friday, August 21, 2009

JUST LISTED! A gorgeous Yankee Barn post and beam home on Mount Desert Island

Although I'm primarily a Lodging Broker, every now and then I list a residential property. This one is located in Pretty Marsh, on the western side Mount Desert Island, Maine. This is what I refer to as a great "feel good" house. Not to mention one for entertaining.

Situated on 10 private acres just minutes from the Pretty Marsh harbor, "Spottsbrooke" is a Yankee Barn post and beam home with 3 bedrooms and 3 full baths and a detached 3 car garage. The kitchen is an absolute dream to a foodie like myself, complete with a cork tile flooring (softer under foot) a 6 burner gas stove, and a special corner WOK stove (doesn't every home offer this?). There seem to be yards and yards of granite counter space, Jenn-Air double ovens and the kitchen is open to the sunny great room/dining room. The custom granite fireplace is definitely one of the focal points of this unique home.

The first floor Master Bedroom offers plenty of light, space and a large bath with marble vanity and steam shower, beautifully done in neutral Travertine tile. The second floor offers two guest bedrooms, full bath with marble and an office open to the great room below. The basement is finished and offers a "rec room", office, full bath and wine cellar.

There is a spacious barn, a potting shed, a pond, a "campsite" and a couple miles of walking trails on the property.

Offered at $929,000 - this is one fabulous property.

Flickr Photos
Virtual Tour

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm often asked "what's happening in the bed and breakfast real estate market?"

I've received numerous inquiries of my listings under the $800,000 price point over the past two months. The lodging industry isn't necessarily in sync with the rest of the real estate market. There are many factors to look at when determining why a property might have a great deal of interest or just very little:
  • is the property priced based on its residential or business value?
  • is the property a solid performing business?
  • does the business offer a buyer room for additional growth?
  • is the property in a desirable area, or destination location for a business?
  • is the town proactive in economic development?
  • is the property fairly priced for today's market?
  • is the property priced based on what the seller has into it?
Often the higher priced properties are priced as such for a very simple reason: they are high performing businesses or they offer something desirable such as location, reputation, incredible owner's quarters or water frontage (and the principle of scarcity)

What you must keep in mind is that buying an inn is as much about the lifestyle as it is the business. It's a hybrid. You can't expect to look at the bottom line of a 6 room bed and breakfast the same as you would a 30 room hotel, or any other regular business for that matter. Your 6 room bed and breakfast should provide you a home, a job, a lifestyle and cover your mortgage and expenses to live simply, not extravagantly. And if you grow the business, keep up with technology, maintain a nice website and maintain the physical structure, you hope to make some money off your hybrid business when you sell.

When looking to buy, you might find the need to subsidize a higher end property to cover the bottom line, but the same goes for a lower priced and under performing business, until you've increased the revenue to support itself. And only you can decide which is right for you. Properties are moving and there's a nice inventory out there. But what you can't always rely on is to benefit from a slow residential economy.

To go into this with a real understanding is paramount to your success.

I'll address this in greater detail during our October 4-6 Get INNspired Innkeeper Bootcamp!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Debunking a Myth...Maine is NOT cold 365 days a year...

My Twitter friend, @top20reos always has a respectful yet wise comeback when I tweet about Maine in the winter, or when I insist that our winter doesn't start 3 weeks from now! Of course, he is from Florida, so it's not an easy task to convince a Floridan of our beautiful Maine weather, any time of year. So Jeff, this post is for you...

Do you see gloomy gray skies? I don't. Here's an earlier post with regard to this same subject displays more photos and reasons why Maine is beautiful all year...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Our Maine Lighthouses, from my camera lens to you...

Two Lights, Cape Elizabeth

Portland Head Light

Nubble Light, York

Marshall Point Head Light, Port Clyde

Bass Harbor Head Light

In my 10 years as a non-Mainer along with my 5 plus years as a proud Maine resident, I believe I've visited all lighthouses accessible by car. Many of my old photos were actually film (yes, we used to use film in the "old days" and I've scanned them so the quality isn't so great) but they still display the beauty of our Maine lighthouses. I have photographed more lighthouses but can't find all of my photos so easily (you know, stored in boxes for the one day that I might get to scan and have them all on my computer). What I love most about each one is the unique rock formations. There's just something about a lighthouse...and of course, they're so Maine...

Pemaquid Point Light-----------Owl's Head Light

Some of my personal favorite Maine spots (coastal and inland)...

Last week I posted Downeast Magazine's 10 Prettiest Maine Harbors. So this week I'm adding to it a few of my personal favorite spots in all of Maine - both inland and coastal:
  • Stonington
  • Christmas Cove
  • Seawall, Acadia National Park
  • Pemaquid
  • Round Pond
  • Port Clyde
  • Clark's Island/Spruce Point
  • Lubec
  • Winter Harbor
  • Rockwood
  • Mt. Kineo
  • Lake Millinocket
  • Baxter State Park (Sandy Stream Pond)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A classic Bed and Breakfast recipe...Praline Pecan French Toast

Every once in a while you come across a recipe that turns out to be one of the best tasting dishes, though not the most gorgeous, sophisticated or gourmet, just smells and tastes so good (like a Cinnabon on steroids). This is one of them. It started out as a Paula Deen recipe (if you are concerned about your cholesterol this one is not for you) and I made just a few small adjustments (if you know me, you know I only follow a recipe once, if that)...

Praline Pecan French Toast

Spray a 9x12 glass baking dish.

3 cups whole milk
8 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
dash of vanilla
dash of cinnamon
Mix well (I use a blender for all my egg/milk mixtures-it works best for light and fluffy) and set aside.

12 slices of French Toast bread or other thick cut soft egg bread, Challah would be great. This is equivalent to maybe 16 slices of regular sliced white bread. Cube the bread and put into the baking dish. Drizzle maple syrup all over the dry bread. Then pour the egg mixture and let sit.

1 1/2 sticks softened butter
3 tablespoons corn syrup
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup light brown sugar
dash of nutmeg
Blend with mixer until fluffy and add 1 cup pecan halves - fold in.

Dollop/spread the topping all over the bread mixture and let sit refrigerated overnight. Let sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes before baking. Bake at 375 covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 20 more until browned on top. BE SURE to use a drip pan or a cookie sheet with edges to catch the butter because it WILL drip over and CAN start an oven fire (not a good thing). Let sit to cool at least 10 minutes or it won't stay together when you try to cut it. It doesn't need syrup, just cut and enjoy! Makes 8 servings, depending on how large you cut them...

For the inn I fancied it up by serving it with a warm rum sauce, caramel drizzle and sliced peaches, but for this purpose, it's not necessary. This recipe is simple and delicious and makes great leftovers (if you have any)!

Note: this photo is courtesy of Monika McGillicuddy (@monikamg on Twitter) - we met on Twitter and met in person at a real estate conference in Boston in June. One week when I was innsitting at Timbercliffe Cottage in Camden, Maine, I made this dish. Monika and some others on Twitter kept talking about it. So I told Monika I'd give her the recipe, but she said she didn't want to attempt it, she'd screw it up. So I told myself that when Monika and her husband Jay (@acemaker on Twitter) came to Bar Harbor during their August visit, I'd make one ready to bake and surprise them with it! So I dropped it off at their incredible waterfront RV site yesterday and they had it for breakfast this morning. So when she tweeted the photo I copied it and decided to blog the recipe. Hope you all enjoy it!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

B&B Industry Reports Healthy Figures...great news for aspiring and current innkeepers!

According to a PAII (Professional Association of Innkeepers International) study, occupancy rates, room prices and revenue continue a steady climb for the nation's bed and breakfast businesses.

Just a random photography post...

I've been playing with the settings on my DSLR camera (which is the Canon EOS D40).

The top photo was taken on manual setting, the exposure was .6 seconds, f-stop f/5.6 ISO speed 400 and focal length was 135mm.

The photo below was set on automatic and the exposure was 2 seconds, f-stop f/5.6 ISO speed 800 and focal length was 135mm.

Clearly the longer exposure of the 2nd photo allowed for the trees in the foreground to be seen, as well as the blue of the sky, but there's far less detail in the long focal point, being the moon and clouds. The top photo provides the crisp edge to the moon which was what my intention was, to capture the moon amongst the clouds, not the blue sky or trees! A point and shoot camera would only capture the image below. I love my DSLR for the photo image quality!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

PAII article for aspiring innkeepers "Buying your First B&B..." by Dana Moos...

The Swan Agency Sotheby's International Realty has long been a member of PAII and I was proud to contribute to their monthly innkeeping newsletter. If you're an aspiring innkeeper, you should give serious consideration to joining the organization. They're a wealth of information and a great platform to start networking, even before you buy.

This was my contribution:

Buying your First Inn/B&B - The Need-to-Know Nutshell Version

For aspiring innkeepers, the initial step once you’ve made the decision to purchase an inn or B&B can often be overwhelming. At any given time there can be a number of properties of all price ranges and size on the market. So what’s your first step? It should be gaining a complete understanding of what your money will buy you. And this goes far beyond understanding what cash you will need for a down payment at settlement.

You think you might have a sense of what type of inn or B&B is ideal for you. However, from experience dealing with buyers, I can tell you that if you keep an open mind, your options will be much greater and the chance of finding the right fit much more successful. If the ideal property exists, it might be rare to find. But don't let that concern you. What you need to focus on are the various aspects of innkeeping and each one’s importance to you and their affect on the business.

During your search there are several things to keep in mind:

· Be truthful with yourself about the aspects of innkeeping that are most important to you

· What are your Owners Quarters requirements/personal space?

· Is there an option for other revenue streams (restaurant, retail, catering, yoga, massage, etc.)

· Location affects business – is the property located in a destination or in pass-through town? Does it get weekend only traffic, does it get any business travelers?

· Season – 6 months or year round (seasonal may offer substantial time off but sometimes finding seasonal employees is more difficult than year round help). I associate a seasonal 6 month business in a busy destination location as a light switch without a dimmer – it’s either on or off. You work hard for 6 months and relax for the other 6, providing the business is strong enough

· Village or rural setting; coastal or inland; lot size affects use

· Do the current rates allow room for increase?

· Is this your hobby, primary source of income or lifestyle choice?

· And very importantly, ENJOYMENT. Ask yourself “will I enjoy being here?”

Now to the issue of what you can afford. As a rule of thumb, you'll need to come up with a 20% -25% down payment (sometimes less; SBA offers programs allowing very little down if the business fits the criteria-talk to your lender about this option). If a property is performing, the banks might be willing to lend more and risk more since the revenue is there from the start.

So here are two scenarios:

Property A is priced at $1,000,000 and makes $170,000 in gross revenue and the resulting GRM is 5.88; Let’s presume there’s very little room for additional revenue growth. This property has 8 rooms, affords a housekeeper, supports the innkeeper's living expenses (though not extravagant).

Property B, is priced at $695,000 makes $70,000 in gross revenue and the resulting GRM is 9.93; Let’s presume there’s 60% room for future revenue growth.

(GRM is a gross multiple of the room revenue used to help assess a business’ value)

The difference in initial cash output (down payment) is $61,000. However, there is a great difference between the two properties. Many banks look at this number when reviewing a loan. If the business value isn't there, they may weigh the residential value more heavily, or a combination of both. Often this is the case with smaller properties. But if you have the additional $61,000 initial output, right away you might be able to walk into a turnkey property and make money from day one. Property B might take much longer to get to the desired level of income, in which case, you still have an output of cash to support the business while growing it. In either scenario, the under-performing property will require the cash, just not at settlement.

Often the following can be used as a rule of thumb:

Higher priced properties:

· higher income

· higher potential income

· more than 8-10 rooms

· affords housekeeping and sometimes an assistant innkeeper

· location, location, location

· amenities such as water or mountain views, spa tubs, body jet or steam showers, fireplaces,etc.

· can support owner's living expenses

Lower priced properties:

· lower income

· often priced based on residential value if business value is not there

· fewer than 6 rooms

· often there is room for potential, but it might be limited because the property is already year round

· lower advertising budget, though it takes advertising to grow the business

· until the income grows, innkeepers are the housekeepers

· might require a second income source

When considering price, be sure to discuss these points with your agent. Some properties on the market today are well priced; many have a very realistic potential to increase revenue substantially therefore are priced accordingly; some will immediately provide a good income; some have spectacular owners quarters. A few of these listings offer a combination of them all. Weigh what matters to you most. But realize and understand compromise when it makes sense. And only you will know when that time comes.

Dana Moos, Associate Broker

The Swan Agency Sotheby’s International Realty

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

This was one fantastic dinner in Southwest Harbor...

Last night was my husband's birthday -we just went up the street and had a casual dinner with some friends. The restaurant is Eat-a-Pita by day, Cafe 2 by night - and it's a regular spot for us. And sometimes with that comes the same meal each time, because we just have certain faves. But this time I tried a new entree and now a NEW FAVORITE! Cafe 2 is a small, very unassuming casual cafe with lots of hand painted wood, architectural pieces turned furniture wares and whimsical decor.

They offer an extensive menu of all homemade food, from salad dressings to desserts to my favorite appetizer, the Mediterranean platter with homemade hummus, whipped feta and crispy pita chips for dipping. It was actually $5 tapas and drinks night so we also shared the lamb patty served with a cucumber, onion and feta relish (deeelish) and the Sashimi tuna with seaweed salad (also deeelish).

But the star of the evening was my entree. Sweet Pea Risotto with Truffle and Basil Oil with Seared Scallops -WOW what flavors this dish offered! The scallops were seared to perfection - not an easy task (you have to ensure the scallops are dry or you'll end up steaming them) and that your pan is hot. The risotto was creamy and beautifully flavored (and scented) with Truffle Oil and fresh basil. The asparagus was steamed leaving just the right amount of crispness. It was absolutely fantastic.

The restaurant is on Main Street in Southwest Harbor with indoor and outdoor dining. Try it! (207)244-4344. Fodor's review Tripadvisor's review

Wonderful Recreational Properties For Sale in Maine...

Rockwood Cottages on Moosehead Lake offers water frontage on Moosehead Lake, an owner's home and 8 rustic cabins with a beautiful view of Mt. Kineo. Rockwood Cottages has hosted guests nightly and weekly for more than 25 years and could be turned into a recreational hub for snowmobilers and winter sports enthusiasts in addition to the summer business. There is direct snowmobile trail access to the lake from the property making its location very marketable for winter business. Offered at $1,150,000. Contact me for more details. Additional Photos

Sunset Vista Cottages in Edgecomb offers 21 acres with water frontage on the Sheepscot River, an owner's home and 4 rustic cabins, just a couple minutes from the town of Wiscasset, the heart of Mid-Coast Maine. For many years it's been used as a family compound but it would offer a wonderful small recreational business opportunity for day camp, overnight camp or short or long term rentals. And it's location is ideal for that 3 hour drive visitor. The site is permitted for an additional 6 cabins which would really add to the business potential. Offered at $590,000. Contact me for more details. Additional Photos