Welcome to Centers and Squares

As a Cambridge real estate agent, the city squares of Cambridge, Somerville and Medford and the town centers of Arlington, Watertown and Belmont, Massachusetts are my home turf. And as a lifelong New Englander who’s lived within twenty miles of Boston most of my life, I can introduce you to other nearby towns as we search for your new home. If you’re planning to sell your home in Cambridge, MA or nearby you’ll find plenty of info about the home selling process here too. Questions? Send me an email or call me at 617-504-1737.

Dollars and Scents For Homesellers

Smells In The House"If you smell it you can't sell it!" the former manager of our Huron Avenue office used to say.  And she was right.  If you’re selling your house you need to think about scents.

 Scent makes a very strong impression when entering a house for the first time.  There are several things to do - and not to do - to ensure that the impression your house makes is a positive one.

 Agents are often embarrassed to tell their clients that their house smells.  So it's best to assume the worst and do all that you can to make sure your home smells sweet.

Here's some tough love advice for getting and keeping your house show-ready:

Fresh Air In

Let The Fresh Air InFor starters - fresh air is free.  Fling the windows open and air out your house.  Nothing is worse than stale air - in all its variations.  Even if it's cold out, turn down the heat and let the air in for a bit - a short bit if it's very cold.  And if it's not the dead of winter, but not yet warm enough to leave the windows open all day, while you're on the market be sure to give your home a daily breather before leaving in the morning.

 

Odors Out 

 If you can't stash dirty laundry in the basement or in the washing machine, do a load of wash.  If the clothes pile up you're in danger of entering the "man smell" zone as my colleague calls it - when the odor of unwashed clothes greets you at the bedroom or closet door.  A related no-no is the damp-towels-in-the-bath smell.  Whip those towels out of the bathroom every day and replace them with the unused set you've kept just for show. Every day may be laundry day when your house is on the market!

 Cooking odors are also problematic.  The scent of baking cookies - good.  The smell of last night's fish dinner - bad.  Plan your menu accordingly or make sure to thoroughly air the house.

 Pets and smokers present their own sets of issues.  Pitch the well loved dog bed and blankets, empty the litter box daily, clean the upholstery thoroughly, and clean the carpets.  Even better, if at all possible, send the pets to the neighbors' or their grandparents' for the duration. If the smokers in the household haven't been banished to the outdoors, now's the time. Indoor smoking should cease well in advance of putting your house on the market. 

Be Careful With Sweet Smells

Baking Cookies For The Open HouseBe careful not to fall into the trap of using air fresheners or scented candles for odor control or enhancement.  The plug-ins and other types of air fresheners sold in the supermarket are a turn-off for most buyers.  Many people are allergic to the chemicals in these products and a buyer with a pounding headache is not inclined to think fondly of your house. And most people will wonder what's being masked by the strong smelling deodorizers.

 One effective but far more subtle option is the reed diffusers that you can find everywhere nowadays.  Be careful - some of these can be quite strong too.  You want the scent to enhance, not overwhelm.  Sandalwood is one scent that doesn't overpower.  Balsam is another - at any time of year - and one of my favorites is made by Frazier Fir.  It's expensive but elegant year round and worth the cost. Check local shops if you want a more inexpensive alternative - there are many diffusers available for under $25.

 It really is about the “dollars and scents”.  Make a good impression and you’ll be a successful home seller – make a bad impression and your pocketbook will suffer.

 Now let’s get ready and get your house sold!

 And for more tough love for sellers see:

Stage Your House To Sell - Declutter

 

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Seeking Cambridge Historic Preservation Nominations

Each year the Cambridge Historical Commission recognizes preservation projects completed in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts during the previous year. If your historic preservation work was completed between January and December 2008 you can find a nomination form and more information at the Historical Commission's website
2008 Award Winner

2008 Award Winner

Cambridge Preservation Recognition Program

Eligible Project Categories:

  • Restoration
  • Rehabilitation
  • Adaptive use
  • Neighborhood conservation
  • Landscape preservation
  • Archaeology
  • Education/outreach

Criteria for Awards:

  • Historical and architectural significance of the property preserved by the project
  • Exceptional quality of the project
  • Extent to which the project contributed to the preservation of the property
  • Impact of the project on the preservation of the city’s historic resources
Nomination forms must be submitted by noon on February 27, 2009.  The 2009 Preservation Awards will be announced at a ceremony on May 21, 2009 as part of National Preservation Month.

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Buying A Home in Belmont? Better Get A Parking Space

No Overnight ParkingIf you're searching for a home or condo in Belmont, Massachusetts it's important to pay careful attention to each property's parking options.  Overnight parking is prohibited in Belmont on all public and private ways.  The restriction applies to the hours of 1:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Most single families in Belmont will have driveway parking.  If you're in the market for a condominium, however, parking options may be more varied.  If the property listing indicates that parking is included, you will want your attorney to review the condominium documents to confirm that you do in fact have the right to park in a legitimate assigned or deeded parking space. What are the options if parking is not included with the property? There are several parking lots in Belmont that allow overnight parking. Cars must be removed before 7 a.m.
  • Waverley Square municipal lot
  • Cushing Square municipal lot
  • Belmont Center municipal lot
  • Belmont Public School parking lots (Cars may not be parked at Chenery Middle School until after 9 pm)

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Arlington Condos – Just The Facts

The Condo Market in Arlington, MA

 
Highest price paid for a condo in Arlington: $780,000 in 2005 for a free-standing townhouse condominium in Arlington Center.  
 
Least expensive condo sold in 2008: $95,000 for a two-room, 394 sq.ft. unit
 
Most expensive condominium sale in Arlington in 2008: $725,000 for a three bedroom, 2.5 bath condo in an historic house on Pleasant Street
 
Average Arlington, MA condo sale price in 2008: $372,917
 
Median sale price in 2008: $353,625
 
Number of condos sold in Arlington:
  •     In 2008:  226
  •     In 2005:  303
  •     In 2000:  159
  •     In 1998:  133
 
Condominiums make up about 20% of the individually owned housing inventory in Arlington, Massachusetts.  Condos can be found in buildings all over town - in converted two or three-family houses, in classic, older brick buildings, in former schoolshouses, in converted apartment buildings, in high-rise buildings, and in newer townhouse style developments.
See Arlington Condo Buildings and Developments for more information about the types of condos you'll find in Arlington.
Want to know more? I'm just a phone call or email away!
 

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Bumper Stickers – Election Day 2009

It's an historic day and there are a lot of very happy people in Cambridge.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden won 62% of the vote in Massachusetts in November. 
 
In Cambridge, the percentage was quite a bit higher as 88% of voters cast their ballot for the Obama-Biden ticket, second only to Aquinnah, a small town on Martha's Vineyard, where 90% of the 311 voters cast votes for Obama.
 
Cantabridgians often broadcast their thoughts, obsessions, affiliations and more on their bumpers.  Here's a sampling of the amazing variety of Obama bumper stickers found on cars in Cambridge this week. There was nary a McCain sticker to be found though I do remember seeing at least one or two over the last year.
 
And if you'd like one of the "Yes We Did" Shepard Faery bumper stickers like the one at the center of the collage - you can get one (for free!) at this site.
Obama Bumper Stickers In Cambridge

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Centers and Squares Debuts

I'm one of those people who likes to go back to the beginning of a blog to look for an introductory post to get a handle on what the writer's intentions are, what's likely to be found on the site, what's the plan, etc.  So if you're "one of those people" too this one's for you!

What You'll Find on Centers & Squares

I'm a real estate agent in Cambridge, Massachusetts at Coldwell Banker on Huron Avenue and I love what I do. My intention is to share my enthusiasm and expertise by writing a lot about real estate - what's happening in the real estate market, exciting new listings that have come on the market, how to meet your goals as a buyer or seller, real estate news, and more. My territory is broad but since my job is to help sellers sell their homes and buyers to buy properties, I can't possibly find the time to write about every town in which I work.  Initially, my goal is to write about the Massachusetts towns that form the inner core of my market - Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, Belmont, Arlington and Watertown.  If you have questions about other nearby towns please let me know - it's your questions that I aim to answer on this site. I've been selling real real estate since 2000 but have lived in New England my entire life, primarily in Massachusetts where I grew up.  I love where I live and look forward to sharing the rich resources of this area with you - whether you already call the area home or are considering a move to Cambridge or nearby.  So look for posts on local history, culture, natural resources, architecture, and more - all that gives this area its unique charm.  Cambridge and Boston have a wealth of colleges and universities and that guarantees there's always lots to do often at no or nominal cost.  Check back often for information about local events - lectures, movies, fairs, festivals, exhibits, sporting events, etc.  And since I'm a huge fan of house tours, garden tours, and open studios you'll find the most complete lists of upcoming tours here as well. 

What's Up With the Centers & Squares Name?

It's not unusual for a newcomer to the area to ask, while we're driving around the city on tour, "What's up with all the squares?" It can sometime seem that you hit another city square every few blocks. Almost all of the Red Line T stops on this side of the river (that's the Charles River of course) are squares - Kendall Square, Central Square, Harvard Square, Porter Square, and Davis Square.  And the squares don't end there - there are at least a half dozen others in Cambridge and Somerville alone.  Venture outside the city and you'll hit the town centers of nearby communities - and more town squares too.  So "Centers and Squares" it was - my best stab at describing the diverse communities that make up the greater Cambridge area.

Search For Real Estate

Since this is primarily a real estate site, after all, I want to be sure to point out that there's an excellent real estate search tool on the site.  The button is at the top of every page, on the side bar, and often in individual articles. Search by map or search by your criteria - whatever works best for you.  And if you want to schedule a showing or ask a question about a property that you find, I'm only a phone call, text message, or email away.

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