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Your Guide to Home Ownership in the Lakes Region

Maine’s landscape offers more than 6,000 of the world’s cleanest and most pristine freshwater lakes and ponds. If you are hoping to find a waterfront property, or a property with access to a body of water, the Lakes Region is home to over 50 lakes to choose from including Maine’s second largest lake: Sebago. The towns which comprise the Lakes Region are northwest of the Greater Portland area and include Windham, Standish, Raymond, Casco, Sebago, Naples, Frye Island, Bridgton and Harrison. Nestled among rolling hills, the Lakes Region is located less than half an hour from Portland and only two hours north of Boston, making it one of the most convenient and desirable vacation areas with some of the best boating, fishing, waterskiing, paddling and hiking you can find. You can visit Maine's famous coastline or hop on a ferry to explore the spectacular islands of Casco Bay in an hour or less, making the Lakes Region the best of both worlds. Its proximity to the city of Portland, which is home to some of the country's top chefs and best restaurants, provides endless dining options, and some of the nation’s top breweries are to be found right here in southern Maine.

The unprecedented growth we have seen in our area has continued beyond the pandemic with the median age recently dropping for the first time in over twenty years, we are well-positioned for this trend to continue. After several decades of debate the multi-million-dollar Windham Sewer Project was approved on June 22, 2022 for the Business District in North Windham. This will not only help to reduce the amount of phosphorus and nitrates entering lakes and streams but is anticipated to attract an influx of brand-new businesses to the Route 302 corridor of North Windham, which is considered the “gateway to the lakes”.

When deciding where to begin your search for a piece of Vacationland, you will want to think about what you intend to do with your property. Are you seeking a more substantial property that you can reside in year-round, or is it a camp for getaways that you need? Will your property search also include land where you can build something brand new, or are you hoping to find an already existing structure that you can add onto or renovate? The recently passed into law LD 2003 legislation effective in July across the state of Maine, removing many of the currently existing barriers to housing production. All municipalities will be required to allow between two and four housing units per lot where housing is permitted as well as allow accessory dwelling units (ADU’s) on the same lot as a single-family home, under certain conditions. ADU’s at least 190 sq ft in size may be within the already existing home or attached to it. An already existing outbuilding may be converted or a new structure can be built, as well. Each municipality determines the maximum size an ADU can be. It is of critical importance that you conduct due diligence regarding the setback requirements and regulations which apply to each specific property that you are considering.

What types of activities do you hope to be able to do while you are there? Will you be utilizing this property only seasonally or is it important to be able to stay there through the ski, snowmobiling and ice fishing season? Some camps may draw their water supply from a seasonal source or may not have year around accessibility by vehicle. Are you looking for a well-stocked fishing spot or a place where you can have your boat and a dock? Many of the lakes have horsepower restrictions while others may not allow motorized boats or have limited public access. Making sure that you can enjoy the property and use it for your purposes will help you to eliminate areas which would not be suitable.

With so many visitors transitioning into ownership opportunities, you will want to work with a local REALTOR who can help you to stay on top of the fast-moving local market and be ready to act quickly. Your agent can help to act as your boots on the ground if you are unable to be here and guide you through the many quirks that only local knowledge can provide.

Nicole Foster is a Windham resident and local real estate broker with 18 years of experience helping buyers, sellers and investors through southern Maine. Reach Nicole at 207.615.7558 or Follow on or Instagram @207nicolefoster.

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