Sixteen acres, several miles off the rocky Maine coast. One 20-by-20-foot pressure-treated tent platform to call home. One tree. Several sheep. Scads of picturesque solitude.

Yours for only $795,000.

Private Islands Inc., featured in Time magazine last week and the worldwide clearinghouse for islands on the real estate market, lists no fewer than 16 properties in and off Maine for sale. Prices range from $298,000 to $3.8 million.

Too steep? Another six are for rent, like Boothbay Island, off Boothbay Harbor. At $21,150 a week, boat captain, maid, meals, foosball and electric Yamaha piano all included.

Claire Adams, executive director of the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce, hadn’t realized two islands near her were for sale: 15.7-acre, $2.5 million Crane Island in Lake Megunticook and 36-acre, $1.9 million Lasalle Island outside Camden Harbor.

She immediately looked up both online.

“Here’s my reaction: Wow,” Adams said. “36 acres? God. You can add ‘God’ to ‘Wow.'”

About 150 islands are for sale in the U.S. at any given time, according to Alexis Pappas, PI’s director of operations. Worldwide, between 700 and 1,000 are on the market.

The Toronto-based company sold 11 in Maine over the past few years, Pappas said.

Private Islands’ Web site is loaded with pictures, vivid descriptions and selling points (Mumford and Bull Island near Presque Isle has its own indigenous butterfly; Blake Island in Oakland has an underwater power supply). There’s also plenty of advice against buying an island on a whim. It takes work and, often, double the money to build, if that’s even allowed. Plus, when you least expect it, something like sand fleas rears its ugly head.

“It’s a really big commitment. It’s a big investment. It’s not like buying a piece of beach front or buying a condo,” Pappas said. “It’s going to be a lot more time consuming than developing on the mainland and it’s also going to be more expensive, and people really need to be prepared for that.”

The appeal?

“I think everyone loves the fantasy of having their own little world. Islands definitely provide that,” she said. “They’re certainly for more adventurous types of people. We like to refer to it as the CEO personality; they want their own little kingdom almost. (It’s) also for people who simply love nature.”

Price and developability are factors in how long parcels linger. Islands on inland lakes definitely have more family appeal, Pappas said. More purchases these days are for investments’ sake.

“Resorts on private islands are just an enormous draw right now, particularly eco-resorts,” she said. “After the last five or so years people have seen these properties just skyrocket in value. For example, in the Bahamas, there are some properties on the market now that are available for triple what they sold for less than five years ago. That kind of appreciation is so difficult to find with any kind of real estate.”

Islands on the block in Maine run the gamut, from little Chasse Island in Wadley’s Pond in the town of Lyman (2 acres for $449,000) to pricey White’s Island in Big Lake in Washington County (143 acres, $3.8 million.) White’s, with two miles of shore frontage, has only changed hands twice in 91 years.

“There are a lot of people I’m dealing with now, that the property has been in their family for more than 100 years, but in terms of their own particular needs, it’s not really suitable to their lifestyle or they never really get a chance to use it or it’s just simply too expensive to keep up,” Pappas said.

“The fact that so many islands have fairly high price tags is also a bit of incentive to want to sell as well. I think it’s surprising to a lot of people. Often their grandfather or even their parents might have paid less than a small car would have cost for the island. When they realize that little investment is all of a sudden possibly worth in the millions, it’s very attractive.”

A particular draw for Maine islands, Pappas said: An idyllic wilderness retreat that’s not too far from a major city.

Assessor Kathleen Proulx in Addison, a 45-minute drive from Ellsworth, said whoever buys Addison Island – much like whoever buys Ram Island in Machias Bay with its single tree and sheep – better enjoy solitude.

“They need to like themselves and the company they keep because there really isn’t anything to do here,” Proulx said. But then, “If you’re going to be on an island, what else do you need?”

A Massachusetts couple owns it now. Appraised at $1,069,700, the sellers are asking $3.2 million for 60-acre Addison Island with two houses and solar power. The land sits to the west of Cape Split, just off the shore.

“Why not ask for a lot of money?” Proulx said. “There might be somebody out there dying to own an island and have $3.2 million they don’t know what to do with.”


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