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Is Waltham the Next Somerville?

Waltham may be the next destination hotspot for real estate buyers

Is Waltham the next Somerville?

Is Waltham the next Somerville?  That's what a Boston Globe article on Sunday suggested, in the paper's super new real estate section "Address." Waltham the next Somerville?  What does that even mean?  The Globe reporter seemed to pose the question in terms of popularity among real estate buyers and price appreciation.  Somerville's been experiencing steep price increases and plenty of bidding wars.  With some Somerville one-bedroom condos selling for more than $400,000 and 34% of the condos sold in the last year selling for more than $500,000, including 5 for more than $1 million - bargains are hard to come by in the Somerville real estate market nowadays. Head over to Waltham, however, and you can still find a two-bedroom condo priced in the $300,000 range.  And that condo will be near Moody Street - more about Moody Street to follow.  It's even possible to buy single family houses in Waltham for under $350,000 - 66 houses sold for less than $350,000 in Waltham vs. just 10 in Somerville.  So what's made Somerville so popular with buyers?  Proximity to Boston is certainly part of the city's draw with the Orange Line at one end and the Red Line at the other.  Many buyers are also anticipating that getting to Boston will be easier eventually when the long promised Green Line stations become a reality.  Much of Somerville's popularity is due to the vibrancy of its squares - Davis Square, Union Square, Ball Square, Porter Square, etc. City government is progressive, there's an active arts scene, and a "hip" quotient of sorts that's been reported on for years (I thought it was nuts when I read it first in the 1990s in Utne Reader but Somerville has been trending towards hip ever since). Driving down Moody Street in Waltham the other day I got the sense that Waltham's well on its way to being the "next Somerville" - a city that will appeal to young residents and visitors alike.  The street is lined with restaurants, shops, and bars and there's a Landmark Theatre (the other's in Kendall Square Cambridge), the Embassy Cinema, showing independent film right around the corner.  If you haven't been to downtown Waltham in years you're in for a surprise. Waltham's a college town - home to both Brandeis and Babson.  The commuter rail station is in the center of town and so's the Charles River.  Waltham's manufacturing past is celebrated at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation. The museum is located in the Francis Cabot Lowell Mill downtown near the Embassy Cinema (look for the smokestack). The museum is host to the annual Steampunk Festival - Somerville has its Fluff Festival, Waltham has steampunk. Another one of Waltham's beautiful old mill complexes, the Waltham Watch Factory, on Crescent Street on the Charles River, has been redeveloped as loft apartments and office space. Whether or not it's the "next Somerville" Waltham is well worth considering if you're priced out of Somerville and Cambridge or want to look for a place where your real estate budget goes a bit further.  With it's vibrant downtown, rich history, and easy access to Boston and the 128 corridor, there's lots to like about Waltham and it's easy to imagine that there's room on the up-side for real estate values.

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Mysterious Cambridge Investor Outed by the Boston Globe

Chinese Investor Buys Properties All Over Cambridge

9 Eustis Street was one of many multi-unit buildings purchased by Chinese investor, Gerald Chan

For months the Cambridge real estate community has been buzzing about the mysterious Chinese investor who's been buying up multi-unit properties around Cambridge at a rapid pace.  The investor, "billionaire businessman Gerald L. Chan," was outed by the Boston Globe on Saturday in a front page article that focused on properties Chan purchased in Harvard Square over the last 18 months. The Globe article describes how Chan, a leading Hong Kong real estate developer who attended Harvard in the 1970s, spent about $120 million buying properties in Harvard Square including the Veritas Hotel and the building that houses the American Express travel office. But Chan's Cambridge purchases extend well beyond Harvard Square.  Here are some of the multi-unit buildings in other Cambridge neighborhoods that the investor has recently purchased:
  • 20 Marie Ave in Mid Cambridge, a triple-decker for $1,580,000
  • 503 Franklin St Cambridge, a triple-decker for $1,550,000
  • 566 Green Street in the Riverside neighborhood, a triple-decker for $1,600,00
  • 56 Hancock St, a 6-unit building in Mid Cambridge for $1,630,000
  • 9 Eustis Street, a multi-unit building in the Agassiz neighborhod for $2,350,000
  • 222 Concord Ave, a multi-unit building in Huron Village for $2,400,000
  • 10-12 Pleasant Street,  a 6-unit building in Central Square for $3,130,000
  • 31-33 Portsmouth St, a 12-unit building in Kendall Square for $5,880,000
 Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and other financial news outlets have all been reporting on Chinese investments in US real estate.  As the Chinese economy booms, many investors are looking to the US to diversify their real estate portfolios.  It was good to know some of the details behind the investment boomlet right here in Cambridge.

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Sales of Cambridge Condos Priced Under $300,000

 
Sales of Cambridge Condos Priced Under $300,000

Sales of Cambridge Condos Priced Under $300,000

Buyers hoping to break into the Cambridge real estate market this spring had 26 condos priced under $300,000 to choose from in the last six months.  Most of these condos were small studios or one-bedrooms.  Several were basement-level condos.  Nineteen of the 26 were less than 600 sq.ft. in size, with five of those measuring less than 400 sq.ft. Multiple bids were common at this price point with nineteen of the condos selling for over asking.

 

Sales of Cambridge Condos Priced Under $300,000

2595 Mass Ave ..... 389 s.f. ...... Ask $148,000 ..... Sold $148,000 1800 Mass Ave ..... 314 s.f. ..... Ask $199,000 ..... Sold $217,000 9 Mullins Ct ..... 288 s.f. ..... Ask $199,900 ..... Sold $182,000 5 Haskell St ..... 414 s.f. ..... Ask $209,000 ..... Sold $222,000 33-35 Homer Ave ..... 504 s.f. ..... Ask $219,900 ..... Sold $215,000 1800 Mass Ave ..... 356 s.f. ..... Ask $224,900 ..... Sold $250,000 20 Concord Ave ..... 390 s.f. ..... Ask $225,000 ..... Sold $225,000 159-161 Hancock St ..... 1080 s.f. ..... Ask $225,000 ..... Sold $250,000 16 Chauncy St ..... 403 s.f. ..... Ask $229,000 ..... Sold $255,000 5 Haskell St ..... 414 s.f. ..... Ask $229,000 ..... Sold $235,000 1697 Cambridge St ..... 585 s.f. ..... Ask $229,000 ..... Sold $240,000 863 Mass Ave ..... 450 s.f. ..... Ask $239,900 ..... Sold $263,000 135 Inman St ..... 508 s.f. ..... Ask $249,900 ..... Sold $259,000 395 Broadway ..... 468 s.f. ..... Ask $250,000 ..... Sold $282,000 266 Windsor St ..... 510 s.f. ..... Ask $259,000 ..... Sold $260,000 67 Walker St ..... 479 s.f. ..... Ask $259,000 ..... Sold $259,500 308 Brookline St ..... 411 s.f. ..... Ask $269,000 ..... Sold $274,000 527 Mount Auburn St ..... 794 s.f. ..... Ask $269,900 ..... Sold $269,900 157 Erie St ..... 473 s.f. ..... Ask $279,000 ..... Sold $325,000 170 Gore St ..... 644 s.f. ..... Ask $282,500 ..... Sold $270,000 79 Tremont St ..... 627 s.f. ..... Ask $289,000 ..... Sold $304,500 572 Cambridge St ..... 737 s.f. ..... Ask $289,900 ..... Sold $295,000 2353 Mass Ave ..... 611 s.f. ..... Ask $290,000 ..... Sold $299,000 315 Elm St ..... 800 s.f. ..... Ask $299,000 ...... Sold $315,000 138 Huron Ave ..... 464 s.f. ...... Ask $299,000 ...... Sold $288,500 170 Gore St ..... 585 s.f. ..... Ask $299,999 ..... Sold $305,000

More than any year I can remember this spring the closed sales are the first thing I look at on the daily hotsheet.  The closed sales prices were so hard to predict.  The spreads between list and sales price aren't as dramatic at this price point but are still impressive.  We'll continue our review of the spring Cambridge real estate market with a look at sales of Cambridge condos priced between $300,000 and $400,000.   

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Cambridge Houses Sold For $1,000,000+

Cambridge Houses Sold for $1,000,000+

Cambridge Houses Sold for $1,000,000+

The sale prices achieved in this spring's bidding wars in the Cambridge real estate market are at times amazing.  It's been a challenging market for buyers and for agents.  What price was right?  What did you have to offer to "win" - to prevail - to actually get an offer accepted?  It was often difficult to know and at times frustrating and even painful for buyers. As those spring sales close we're finally finding out just what clinched the deal for the houses that sold for over the asking price.    Let's take a look at sales of Cambridge single family houses that sold for $1,000,000 or more over the last three months.  There's a bit of an overlap with our last post, Cambridge Single Family Sales - Houses Priced Under $1,000,000 - since the houses that were priced at almost one million sold for quite a bit more. Twelve of the twenty-one houses in this price range sold for over asking.  The premium paid ranged from $5000 to $1,300,000 over list price - from less than 1% to more than 30% over asking.  With numbers and ranges like that it's no wonder that the Cambridge spring market was so challenging for many buyers. In the list of Cambridge house sales that follows the room count - number of rooms / bedrooms /baths is included and if the house is attached to another, rather than free-standing, that's noted as well.

Cambridge Houses Sold for $1,000,000+

63 Foster St 02138 ... 6/3/1 ... Ask $995,000 ... Sold $1,140,000 7 Chalk St 02138 ... 7/4/4.5 attached ... Ask $1,299,000 ... Sold $1,290,000 26 Parker St 02138 ... 10/6/3 ... Ask $995,000 ... Sold $1,355,000 44 Coolidge Hill Rd 02138 ... 9/5/2.5 ... Ask $1,365,000 ... Sold $1,370,000 25 Meadow Way 02138 ... 10/5/3.5 ... Ask $1,395,000 ... Sold $1,400,000 8 Acacia St 02138 ... 8/4/3.5 attached ... Ask $1,425,000 ... Sold $1,500,000 140 Foster St 02138 ... 9/6/4.5 ... Ask $1,395,000 ... Sold $1,560,000 25 Brewster St 02138 ... 8/5/3.5 attached ... Ask $1,750,000 ... Sold $1,730,000 34 Bates St 02140 ... 12/6/3 attached ... Ask $1,890,000 ... Sold $1,790,000 10 Newell Terr 02140 ... 10/4/3.5 ... Ask $1,895,000 ... Sold $1,870,000 20 Hilliard St 02138 ... 8/4/3.5 attached ... Ask $1,895,000 ... Sold $2,000,000 65 Larchwood Dr 02138 ... 9/3/2.5 ... Ask $1,895,000 ... Sold $2,010,000 134 Larch Rd 02138 ... 11/5/4.5 ... Ask $2,100,000 ... Sold $2,050,000 205 Brattle St 02138 ... 10/5/3.5 ... Ask $2,150,000 ... Sold $2,050,000 245 Grove St 02138 ... 10/4/4.5 ... Ask $2,350,000 ... Sold $2,700,000 117 Avon Hill St 02140 ... 10/5/3.5 ... Ask $2,750,000 ... Sold $2,800,000 25 Lakeview Ave 02138 ... 10/4/4.5 ... Ask $3,100,000 ... Sold $2,825,000 4 Lowell St 02138 ... 13/6/3.5 ... Ask $3,180,000 ... Sold $3,415,000 28 Fayerweather St 02138 ... 15/8/4.5 ... Ask $3,800,000 ... Sold $3,500,000 57 Francis Ave 02138 ... 16/7/3.5 ... Ask $3,850,000 ... Sold $3,710,000 66 Sparks St 02138 ... 14/5/4.5 ... Ask $3,700,000 ... Sold $5,000,000 Stay tuned as we have more posts planned that look at Cambridge condo sales this spring.  

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Cambridge Single Family Sales – Houses Priced Under $1,000,000

Cambridge Houses  Priced < One Million

Cambridge Houses Priced < One Million

With all the multiple bids and sales for far above asking price this spring I find myself paying a lot of attention to the closed sales on the hotsheet.  You may be asking too - wonder what that house sold for?  Here's the first in a series of posts with sales prices for Cambridge single family houses that closed in the last three months and had asking prices less than $1,000,000:

 Cambridge Houses Priced Under One Million

76 Sixth St 02141 ....6/3/1 attached .... Ask $399,900 .... Sold $440,000 108 Dudley St 02140 .... 7/3/1 .... Ask $489,000 .... Sold $555,100 42 Valentine St 02139 .... 5/2/1.5 townhouse .... Ask $499,000 .... Sold $550,000 9 Oakland St 02139 .... 8/5/1 .... Ask $545,000 .... Sold $430,000 46 Valentine St 02139 .... 7/2/1 .... Ask $549,000 .... Sold $632,000 50 Hancock St 02139 .... 8/4/1 .... Ask $599,000 .... Sold $550,000 126-E Oxford St 02140 .... 6/2/2 townhouse .... Ask $410,000 .... Sold $600,000 9 St. Saveur Ct 02138 .... 9/3/2 .... Ask $669,000 .... Sold $701,500 30 Crescent St 02138 .... 8/3/2 attached .... Ask $679,000 .... Sold $699,000 5 Corporal McTernan 02139 .... 5/3/2.5 townhouse .... Ask $699,900 .... Sold $726,000 114 Tremont St 02139 .... 5/2/3.5 .... Ask $749,000 .... Sold $830,000 31 Bay St 02139 .... 7/3/1 .... Ask $749,000 .... Sold $749,000 122 Western Ave 02139 .... 6/3/2.5 .... Ask $775,000 .... Sold $777,500 117 Charles St 02141 .... 5/3/3 .... Ask $849,000 .... Sold $799,000 115 Charles St 02141 .... 5/3/3 attached .... Ask $869,000 .... Sold $760,000 105-A Trowbridge St 02138 .... 7/3/3 townhouse .... Ask $875,000 .... Sold $931,000 111-8 Trowbridge St 02138 .... 7/3/3.5 attached .... Ask $899,000 .... Sold $903,000 24 Locke St 02140 .... 9/5/2 .... Ask $950,000 .... Sold $985,000 26 Parker St 02138 .... 10/6/3 .... Ask $995,000 .... Sold $1,355,000 Note: Room counts are given as total rooms / bedrooms / baths.  If the property is in a townhouse development or attached to another dwelling that is noted.  If no style is listed the houses are free standing.  House sales closed between March 1, 2013 and June 3, 2013. Next we'll look at Cambridge Houses Sold for $1,000,000+.    

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Cambridge One-Bedroom Condos

When I was checking the hotlist today for properties new to the market I noticed a number of newly listed Cambridge one-bedroom condos.  Whether you're trying to get a toehold in the Cambridge real estate market with your first place, looking for a city getaway, or seeking a place to call home while you're in school in Cambridge for a few years, you'll want to check out this week's one--bedroom condos in Cambridge.  And best to act fast - this spring there's a "blink and it's gone" pace to the market. Over the last six months one-bedroom condominiums in Cambridge have sold for a median price of $439,800 and a median price per square foot of $530.  Both of those figures probably skew a bit high because of the large number of luxury condos at Northpoint in the mix. The condos that caught my eye that are included below range in size from 542 to 798 square feet and are priced from $325,000 to $409,000. They're in a variety of building types that give a good idea of what you're likely to find in Cambridge - the buildings date from the 1870s to the 1970s with most built around the turn-of-the-century.  Asking price per square foot ranges from $437 to $755 with a median price per square foot of about $510.  Four of the six have a parking space.  The condos are all over town - from North Cambridge to Cambridgeport, to Riverside, Central Square and Harvard Square. Click on the small photos below for additional photographs and more information.  See something you like? Give me a call and we can make a plan to see one or all.  Liz Bolton, ReMax Destiny, Cambridge.  617-504-1737     CentersAndSquares@gmail.com

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Having Trouble Finding a Cambridge Condo To Buy?

Condo Inventory Is Way Down In Cambridge

Condo Inventory Is Way Down In Cambridge

Are you having trouble finding a Cambridge condo to buy?  No wonder - inventory is at record lows.  Here's how the numbers looked at this time of year over the last decade:
  • 2003 . . . . . 151 condos listed for sale on February 5th
  • 2004 . . . . . 127
  • 2005 . . . . . 225
  • 2006 . . . . . 321
  • 2007 . . . . . 265
  • 2008 . . . . . 287
  • 2009 . . . . . 243
  • 2010 . . . . . 174
  • 2011 . . . . . 182
  • 2012 . . . . . 92
  • 2013 . . . . . 86**    **Only 64 condos are actually available for sale
Ouch.  There are 86 Cambridge condos listed in the MLS for sale right now.  But actually only 64 are available for purchase.  22 are what we call "Red Active" - the condos have an accepted offer and are under agreement.  The listing agents and sellers are continuing to market the condos but the agent view in the MLS shows the status in red indicating that the property is under agreement. So there are only 64 condos for sale right now in Cambridge - less than half of what was for sale in every other year this past decade aside from 2012 when 92 condos were listed for sale on February 5th. But the inventory is even tighter than that number suggests - particularly if you don't want to live in a modern building in East Cambridge.  21 of the 64 condos listed for sale are at NorthPoint and 10 more are scattered among the other luxury buildings in East Cambridge - the Esplanade, Thomas Graves Landing, the Glass Factory, River Court, the Regatta and One First.  These are beautiful condos in the East Cambridge buildings but if that's not the style or location you're looking for there are just 33 condos currently available anywhere else in Cambridge.  Seven of these are priced at more than $1,000,000. So what's a buyer to do?  You really need to have your ducks in a row and your team in place.  If properties do come on the market in your price range make sure you see them so you can start to get an idea of what's possible.  You'll want to get preapproved by a reputable lender so you'll know what your price range is and so you'll be ready when you do want to make an offer.  Find an agent with whom you feel comfortable working.  It's more important than ever that you work with an excellent real estate agent.   An experienced agent's advice and help with strategy is critical in a market as competitive as this.  Make sure you share all the details of your wish list - and its refinements over time - with your agent so that she can keep an eye and ear out for any new listings that might be a match.  And try to be available to get out to see places as quickly as possible. If you're a seller this is an excellent time to put your property on the market.  Conventional wisdom may be that listing your home for sale in spring is optimal but it's difficult to recall a better time than right now to sell a property. Buyers are out in force and you'll have little competition.  If your property is priced right - and pricing remains an important factor - and marketed well you may receive multiple offers and be able to select an offer with excellent price and terms.  Now is not the time to sell your property to the neighbor knocking on your door or to buyer calling you on the phone because your house didn't sell a few years ago.  If one person wants your house it's a good bet that if your house is put on the market there will be multiple interested buyers.

Whether you're interested in buying or in selling I would be happy to discuss what's possible in this market.  Please give me a call at 617-504-1737 or email me at ebolton@rdygh.com.   Liz Bolton, ReMax Destiny

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November Real Estate Numbers

The November Massachusetts Real Estate Numbers Are In

The November Massachusetts Real Estate Numbers Are In

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors released the November real estate numbers on Friday - and encouraging numbers they were. Here are some of the highlights:

Single family house sales were up 29.2% from November a year ago

The median price for a Massachusetts single family house was up 3.5% from a year ago

Condo sales were up 35.9% from November 2011

The median price for condos was up 12.6% from a year ago

Inventory dropped dramatically - down by 25.9% for houses and down 34.4% for condominiums

In the Greater Boston real estate market this was the busiest November for house sales since 2004

 If you're thinking of buying or selling in 2013, give me a call - I'd love to help.  Liz Bolton, ReMax Destiny.  617-504-1737.

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