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.

When I Win the Lottery Tonight

CSB ATMWhen I win the lottery tonight I won’t be putting my money in Cambridge Savings Bank.

I’ve had an account at Cambridge Savings Bank for years but I’ll deposit my winnings into my favorite credit union – Industrial Credit Union in Boston. 

I *love* my credit union. It has one branch in the Financial District.  A real person answers the phone when you call, solves your problem, and, if need be, hand addresses an envelope to you and pops it in the mail.  ICU has low, low fees and no-fee accounts – and good interest.  In fact, I get great interest on my no-fee checking account and their online banking is super.

Cambridge Savings Bank – not so much.  I got aggravated by the fees and more fees they started charging over the years and then really aggravated when they dropped out of the SUM program. The SUM program is a cooperative effort among smaller banks.  You aren’t charged a fee if you use an ATM at a bank that belongs to the program.

But the last straw is the sign at right.  CSB closed the ATM across from my office.  Aaagh!! Battling the parking lot at the Porter Square shopping center is not an acceptable alternative to popping into the ATM before grabbing lunch at Sarah’s or Armando’s.

So when I get that really big check I’ll head on into Boston to stash my millions in Industrial Credit Union.

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Open House Etiquette

Homeowners roll out the welcome mat at open houses

Homeowners roll out the welcome mat at open houses

Open House Etiquette   Tis the season for open houses with the Cambridge real estate market already in full swing.

When you’re at an open house you’re essentially a guest of the home owner.  Here are some things to keep in mind:

Leave the coffee outside  I’m not sure what’s happened to make everyone walk around holding a cup. I’m as big a coffee addict as the next person (ok – bigger) but it wouldn’t occur to me to bring my drink with me when I go into a store or an open house. It’s even more mystifying given the proliferation of cup holders in cars nowadays. Long and short – leave your drinks outside when you visit an open house.

Hold onto the kids  If children are accompanying you to open houses you’ll want to keep a tight rein on them.  Many houses and condos that you’ll visit won’t be child-proofed.  There’s often expensive art and breakable objects at very turn – disasters waiting to happen. If your kids haven’t been taught to look-but-not-touch then you’ll really want to hold on to them tightly.

If you can’t say something nice … then don’t say anything at all.  It’s simply bad form to dis the house or condo that you’re visiting – at least within earshot of other visitors. I know sometimes it’s tempting to make a negative remark as a strategy when you like a place – how better to dissuade your competition?  More often than not, though, it’s just some negative nellies who loudly discuss what they perceive to be shortcomings.  Best to save your critique for long after you leave. 

Wear your good socks  While I typically encourage homeowners to allow visitors to wear shoes there’s a good chance, particularly if the weather is bad, that you’ll be asked to remove your shoes.  Good socks and easily removed shoes will make the process slightly less onerous.  It’s a lesson real estate agents learn early in their careers – the socks with holes have to be weeded from the sock drawer.

Don’t be shy about signing in   It’s some sort of reflex that many of us have (I admit it – I was prone to it too when I went to open houses as a hobby many years ago)  – we don’t want to sign in on the guest register.  But be brave.  It’s a simple request and given that you’re a guest in someone’s home – an unknown guest at that – it’s only fair to the homeowner.  If you’re working with an agent sign in with his or her name or add it to the sheet. That way if there’s info to be shared, offers coming in or whathaveyou, we can call your agent. 

That’s it – my advice from the real estate trenches.  See you out there on Sunday!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

The Saint Patrick’s Day revelers were already out in force late this afternoon in Cambridge. St. Patrick’s Day on a Saturday in Massachusetts – it reminds me of New Years Eve – a good night to stay off the roads.

Wherever you go tonight – or tomorrow – may you have a very happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Here’s a vintage postcard to celebrate the holiday. Someone sent it through the mail more than a century ago in 1909. It’s one of the items I’ve collected that I’ll be adding to my soon-to-debut vintage images website, VintageImagesToGo.com.  Ever since I began to blog it’s been a challenge to find quality illustrations for posts.  VintageImagesToGo (or VITGO as I’ve been calling it) will help to fill that void.  We should be open for business in a month or so with an amazing collection of copyright-free retro illustrations to download. You’ll find plenty to use in craft projects, in e-cards, in blogs, for business cards – you name it!

St Patricks Day vintage postcard

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65 Circuit Street Melrose MA – Single Family House for Sale

I’m delighted to bring 65 Circuit Street in Melrose MA on the market this week.  This single family house is for sale for $379,000.

Melrose is one of my favorite nearby towns – it has one of the best downtown shopping areas around and has three – count ’em – three commuter rail stations in town with regular service to Boston.

65 Circuit Street Melrose MA

65 Circuit Street Melrose MA

Melrose also has an amazing array of very charming houses and 65 Circuit Street is one of them.  It’s a classic bungalow – filled with the charm of the period and updated with quality renovations.  And yes – you can walk to the commuter rail and the shops, stores, restaurants and public library in downtown Melrose.

Study or playroom at 65 Circuit Street

Study or playroom at 65 Circuit Street

There’s room to spread out at 65 Circuit Street.  The living room and dining room are spacious, there are three bedrooms on the main level and upstairs there are two additional rooms and storage – unheated but very usable.  The former enclosed porch has been renovated and now makes a super study or play area with built-in bookcases and window seats.

Beautifully renovated kitchen at 65 Circuit St Melrose

Beautifully renovated kitchen at 65 Circuit St Melrose

The kitchen at 65 Circuit is simply stellar.  As a real estate agent I see a *lot* of kitchens.  This redo is really one of the best I’ve seen.  There are lovely Shaker style custom cabinets including some made from reclaimed wood taken out of the old kitchen.  I’m not always a fan of granite counters but these are truly beautiful.  There are new appliances, including a French door fridge with freezer under; recessed lights, built-in stereo speakers that you hook up to your sound system; loads of light; and a nifty mudroom adjacent to the kitchen with a bench, coat hooks, cubbies for recycling and access to the backyard.

There are three bedrooms downstairs and two more rooms upstairs

There are three bedrooms downstairs and two more rooms upstairs

The level backyard is fenced and perfect for pets or play.  The current owners use the garage for storage.   

You can see 65 Circuit Street, Melrose MA by appointment starting on Thursday, March 15th, or at the open house on Sunday.  For more information or to make an appointment please call Elizabeth Bolton (that’s me!) of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage at 617-504-1737 or contact me by clicking the Contact button towards the top of this page.

Categories: Property Info

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Weekend Red Line Service Restored

Weekend subway service is back on the Red Line

Weekend subway service is back on the Red Line

Wondering if you can take the Red Line T on the weekends?  Starting this weekend you can.  Hurrah!  Weekend Red Line service has been restored in Cambridge and Somerville.  It’s been a pain in the neck these past four months – on the weekends the Red Line subway passengers were bussed past Harvard Square.  So if you counted on catching the T at Alewife, Davis Square or Porter Square instead you were relegated to a shuttle bus on the weekend.

According to an article in today’s Boston Globe, the shutdown on the weekends enabled the T to take care of 100s of maintenance projects on the MBTA’s to do list.  That’s a good thing and happily we weren’t slogging through snow drifts this winter. But nothing beats hopping on the subway so all of us in North Cambridge and Davis Square are happy to be back to riding the T on the weekends.

Categories: Living Here

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Gulf Station on Broadway in Somerville Added to the Hall of Fame

We use a lot of gas when we tour new real estate listings in Cambridge and Somerville.  We toured 14 properties on our tour this week and mid-tour my car was running on fumes.

I pulled into the Gulf Station at 583 Broadway in Somerville opposite Trum Field and Cedar Street. It was my first time there and since I had a car full of real estate agents somebody unrolled the window and asked for a fill up – thus foiling my usual “my-window-doesn’t-work” test to see if the attendant will come to my window.

Our chocolate bonus from Gulf Station on Broadway on top of Wednesday's real estate tour sheet

Our chocolate bonus from Gulf Station on Broadway on top of Wednesday's real estate tour sheet

Well the Gulf Station on Broadway is my latest addition to the Gas Station Hall of Fame.  Not only did the attendant come to my window to be paid – despite the easy opportunity to go to the passenger window – but he gave us a handful of chocolate too! We’ll definitely visit that gas station again.

Here’s my post about other local full serve gas stations with great service.

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5 Walden Mews – Cambridge Townhouse

The living room at 5 Walden Mews has soaring ceilings, huge windows and a fireplace

The living room at 5 Walden Mews has soaring ceilings, huge windows and a fireplace

My new listing at 5 Walden Mews, a Cambridge townhouse, was on our tour today and a big hit with the many Coldwell Banker real estate agents on tour.

5 Walden Mews Cambridge MA is a spacious 1950 sq.ft. townhouse in sparkling, move-in condition new to the market at $729,000. You”ll have room to spread out here – there are three bedrooms plus two rooms to use for offices, exercise, play room, etc.   The condo is bright and open, with new hardwood floors, sun-filled rooms, many with skylights, and vaulted ceilings in several rooms.

Beautifully landscaped patio at 5 Walden Mews

Beautifully landscaped patio at 5 Walden Mews

Are you set on garage parking?  5 Walden Mews has that rare Cambridge amenity – a two-car garage with side-by-side parking and direct entry.

There’s both a roof deck and a fully fenced and beautifully landscaped patio and garden.

The current owners love to cook and have upgraded the appliances to chef-quality stainless steel including a five-burner gas range and Liebherr fridge with freezer below.  The spacious walk-in storage closet downstairs has a freezer for additional food storage.

5 Walden Mews is close to Porter Square, Davis Square and Mass Ave putting you within walking distance of dozens of shops, stores, cafes, pubs and restaurants. In addition to the nearby Red Line subway and commuter rail, you can easily access commuter routes including routes 2, 90, 93, 95 and 128.

Kitchen at 5 Walden Mews opens to the dining room

Kitchen at 5 Walden Mews opens to the dining room

Raymond Park is just down the block and is a popular gathering place with neighbors who enjoy its many amenities – picnic area, playground, basketball hoops, soccer field, baseball diamond, and lots of green, open space for pets and play.

5 Walden Mews Cambridge MA 02140 will be open this weekend on Saturday and Sunday, March 10th and 11th, 2012 from 1 to 2:30 pm.  I hope to see you  there but if you can’t make the open house and want to schedule a visit you can give me a call. You can reach me –  Liz Bolton of Coldwell Banker – at 617-504-1737.

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The Pace of the Cambridge Real Estate Market

 

"Red Active" status shows a Cambridge property that sold within three days of coming on the market.

"Red Active" status shows a Cambridge property that sold within three days of coming on the market but is being shown for backup offers.

The pace of the Cambridge real estate market this spring is dizzying.

Newly listed properties are often selling before the open house. Many properties have received multiple bids.

Why is this happening?  Low inventory seems to be the answer.  There just aren’t enough properties on the market to satisfy demand. Here’s how Cambridge real estate listings today compare to the same time last year. 

  • Single familes for sale in Cambridge – 21 vs. 41 a year ago
  • Condos for sale in Cambridge – 115 vs. 231 a year ago
  • Multi-family houses – 11 vs. 16 a year ago

Wow!  The numbers of houses and condos for sale in Cambridge are down 50% from last year.  As always, multi-families are in short supply in Cambridge.  Inventory is down in Somerville as well though not as dramatically as in Cambridge.

The availability of properties for sale is even more limited than the numbers above suggest, however.  The increasingly common usage of what we agents call “red active” – the property status of Under Agreement But Will Show for Backup Offers – means that only 84 condos in Cambridge, not 115, are actually available for purchase as I write.

What does this mean for Cambridge real estate buyers and sellers?

For buyers:  Your best bet is to get a buyer’s agent who can alert you early on to properties coming on the market. Make yourself available to see new listings as soon as possible.  Make sure you get a pre-approval from a lender. Be prepared for there not to be a lot to see – there just isn’t large numbers of listings coming on the market at any particular price point.  And when there is the properties may sell quickly. 

For sellers:  If you’ve been holding off putting your property on the market this may very well be the time to sell.  Perhaps your friend in the ‘burbs can’t sell his house or your neighbor down the street’s house lingered on the market a few years ago.  Don’t let their experience lead you to think that it’s “not a good time”.  It’s a great time to sell right now in Cambridge. You’ll want the advice and assistance of an experienced Cambridge real estate agent – pricing, preparation and marketing continue to be critically important despite limited inventory.

 

Thinking of buying or selling in Cambridge or nearby this year?  I’d love to help.  Email me at [email protected] or give me a call at 617-504-1737.   Elizabeth Bolton, ReMax Destiny, 171 Huron Ave. Cambridge MA

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