I'm sure you may think I am biased, being a Real Estate professional and all, but I wanted to try and answer your question as best I can. I may be in the business, but I am also a skeptic. I,myself lost 30k on my home when I had to sell 2 years ago, which at the time was my whole life savings. Without being an economist (and I'm not even sure they know) what I can tell you is;
-Prices have stabilized in the area, and listings are moving much more quickly in the past few months than anyone has seen in a while - especially in the >250,000 range.
-I live in OOB. I am astonished by the influx of people from other states moving here, as the area offers an exceptional value for people as compared to other New England States.
-The greater Portland are is progressive, which is not the case in many other New England cities, small or large. many companies here (IDEXX for example, Wright Express, TD Bank) are hiring, offering bonuses, raises, etc- and relocating people from out of area. This can only be good for short and long term home values.
I wish I had a crystal ball to determine if the homes purchased this year would appreciate within a few years. Without one though, I can only hypothesize that this area is a wonderful place to invest, based on the observations I have been able to make. Enough so, that between the credit, recent months activity and general economic knowledge, I will surely put my own money on it, and hope for the best.
Good luck with your endeavors. if you ever want to look at properties please give me a call at 207-423-9796, or email firstname.lastname@example.org