March 25, 2012

Buyers drawn to walkable neighborhoods with a community vibe

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

Despite the struggling real estate market, there are some Portland-area neighborhoods where houses are selling better than others.

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Buyers are finding Portland’s East End, with its water views and cool restaurants, a desirable place to be.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Deering Center, with its neighborhood stores and coffee shops, is popular with buyers.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Realtors say that, generally speaking, these are walkable neighborhoods that provide a sense of community. These are places where you can walk to a coffee shop, school or grocery store.

"People are choosing to live downtown and not own cars," said Lori Garon of the Garon Group at ReMax By the Bay. "We're really becoming more consolidated again. Moving out to the suburbs and living on a 5-acre parcel of land, when people do that, they're making a conscious decision to live outside in a rural area.

"But when people choose to live in a small, desirable city like Portland, they want the community that comes with that."

McMansions with so much square footage that it could be days before you run into a family member appear to be a thing of the past. People are downsizing and living more modestly, Garon said. Young people are going back to starter houses and not feeling like they have to be in their dream house at 35.

"People are choosing smaller houses," Garon said. "People are looking for something less now, a little bit more meaning. This economic downturn, I think, made an adjustment in values of some sort."

Here's what some Realtors had to say about popular Portland-area neighborhoods:


TWENTY YEARS AGO, newcomers to the city were warned off renting, let alone buying, in this neighborhood. Today, it's the hip place to be for young and old alike, with its water views and plenty of local restaurants such as the Blue Spoon, The Front Room and Bar Lola.


THESE ARE WALKABLE NEIGHBORHOODS where residents can meet their friends in a local coffee shop or pick up a few groceries at neighborhood stores like Rosemont Market and Bakery.


THE WALKABLE WEST END continues to be popular, and any single-family housing that goes on the market gets snapped up quickly. Residents can walk to the gourmet grocer/eatery Aurora Provisions and the neighborhood tavern Ruski's, and the addition of new restaurants such as Caiola's, Bonobo, Petite Jacqueline and Boda have added to the appeal. Maine Medical Center, the State Theatre and the Portland Museum of Art are within easy walking distance.


THIS AREA HAS a new school and is an easy walk to the boulevard, Borealis Breads Bakery and Bistro, and other neighborhood favorites. The architecture is interesting and the homes seem to hold their value.


ONE PORTLAND REALTOR says there's a shortage of inventory in this dog-friendly yet quiet neighborhood with lots of access to Portland Trails system. At almost any hour of the day, you'll see someone out jogging or walking their dog. In good weather, residents can walk down to the Presumpscot River.


ON A WEEKEND MORNING, you'll see people out with their children walking to Scratch Baking Co. for bagels or checking out the ice cream flavors at Willard Scoops. Nancy Field, an agent at Keller Williams Realty, just listed a house in this neighborhood and immediately had nine showings scheduled.

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The Willard Beach neighborhood in South Portland sparks significant interest among home buyers, Realtors say. Its walkable nature, local stops and, of course, Willard Beach, are strong draws.

2010 Press Herald File


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