Finally, a home in Maine’s red-hot real estate market sold for less than its list price.

Even so, it fetched a sum higher than any other single-family dwelling in Cumberland County since Maine Listings, a subsidiary of the Maine Association of Realtors, began keeping records in 1996. It also was the most expensive sale statewide in 2020, and the seventh-highest home sale price ever recorded in Maine.

For $7.55 million, the 15,455-square-foot home at 1172 Shore Road in Cape Elizabeth changed hands on the penultimate day of December. Eliot Cutler, who twice ran unsuccessfully for governor as an independent, and his wife, Melanie, sold their home to Jonathan Bush Jr., nephew of one former president and cousin of another.

“It was time,” Cutler said. “This place is huge, and much too big for the two of us.”

Originally listed for $11 million in April 2017, the three-story home includes such amenities as a private beach, heated pool, tennis court, wine cellar, sauna and four-bedroom guest house.

Chris Lynch and Anne Bosworth of Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty marketed the property, initially with an eye toward the Asian market. Lynch said their timing was less than ideal because of trade wars and China restricting currency movement and international asset ownership.

They wound up dropping the price three times, to $9.85 million in spring 2018, to $8.79 million in winter of that year, and finally to $7.95 million in April 2019. Each price change generated interest, but nothing like in the fall of 2020.

“All of a sudden, we had four or five interested parties within a week or 10 days of each other,” said Lynch, noting the draw during a pandemic of abundant space, privacy, two home offices and a detached guest house. “It kind of fell into the wheelhouse of what everybody was looking for.”

There were two finalists, and Bush’s bid won out. At 51, he’s the former CEO and co-founder of Boston-based Athenahealth and has five children from his first marriage. He and his wife, Fay, have a 2-year-old daughter.

The library of the Cape Elizabeth house. Photo by Meggie Booth

“He has a second family and several kids from his first marriage who are older, which is great, “Cutler said. “They’re an ideal buyer because they’re going to fill this place up.”

Cutler originally purchased a vacant 5.5-acre parcel in 1998 for $1.48 million. A native of Bangor, he hired Robert Knight of Blue Hill as architect and Wright-Ryan Construction of Portland as builder. The guest house went up first, and the Cutlers lived there until the main house was completed in 2001.

Their children now grown, the Cutlers bought a house in Portland’s West End and will move there in April, by which time they plan to have finished packing. Until then, under an arrangement with the new owners, the Cutlers will remain in Cape Elizabeth as tenants. Cutler said he will miss the endlessly big rooms and the ocean views.

“I tell people that on a clear day I can see Portugal,” he said. “We are happy to have lived here for 20 years. It’s been wonderful, but we’re looking forward to being urbanites again.”

Current property taxes amount to $94,838.04, according to the Cape Elizabeth assessor’s database. The land is assessed at $2.13 million and the buildings at $2.66 million.

Cutler said he and his wife actually sold the place in 2012 to a limited liability partnership that included them and their children, but also “a couple of investors” who then kept the Cutlers on as tenants.

The home’s view of Casco Bay Photo by Megan Booth

Now 74, Cutler said he remains busy. The former environmental lawyer serves as president of the philanthropic Lerner Foundation and vice president of the Maine Historical Society. He also serves on the board of directors for Thornburg Investment Management.

Melanie Stewart Cutler, 71, is a retired psychiatrist and lawyer. Between their home offices/studies is a passageway hidden by a bookcase that also serves as a door.

Rebecca Kingsley of Keller Williams Realty represented the buyer, thanks to a referral from a previous customer. Kingsley said they looked at a variety of properties in Greater Portland, uncertain at first if they even wanted a primary residence.

“It’s so interesting how this buying process can evolve as a buyer’s own life goals evolve,” Kingsley said. “So landing on what we did was as much a surprise to them as to me.”

The previous highest price for a single-family home sold in Cumberland County was $7.15 million for a four-bedroom, six-bathroom property on the shore of Sebago Lake in Raymond. That transaction closed in late 2014.

Kingsley is a former professional singer now in her fourth year as a real estate broker. Given all the amenities and the location, she said she thinks the Bush family – already familiar with the Maine coast because of the family compound in Kennebunkport – will enjoy their new digs.

“I hope they love it,” she said. “I can’t imagine someone wouldn’t.”


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