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.

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.

Categories: Real Estate Market Info

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2012

 

From my house to yours –

Wishing you the very merriest of Christmases.

 

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Closets Too Shallow?

Children's Hangers Will Fit In a Shallow Closet

The Answer to Shallow Closets

Are your closets too shallow?   Can’t fit hangers in the closet?

Shallow closets are  a common problem in older houses and apartments.  At one time closets were designed to have a row of hooks inside – not a closet rod.   I’m not sure through what time period closets were built this way – I’ve owned two houses built in the 1800s and in each some of the closets weren’t deep enough for closet rods.

Sometimes short closet rods can be installed from front to back to the left or right of the door – that’s how the closets were adapted in my house.  It’s not perfect – those are pretty short closet rods – but it works.

The problem with a shallow closet is that when a closet rod is installed from end to end – as closet rods typically are – you can’t fit clothes hangers on the rod and still close the closet door.  Some homeowners remove the closet doors altogether but that’s not ideal.

Here’s an innovative fix to the problem of shallow closets – children’s clothes hangers.  Yup – that’s right – children’s clothes hangers typically will fit in the closet and allow for the door to close.

I picked up these kids’ hangers at the Container Store – a bargain at just 29 cents a piece.

Thanks to Tara for this innovative solution – all of us with shallow closets thank you!

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MassHousing Loans – 3 Things I Didn’t Know

Mass Housing Loans May Be Right For You

Mass Housing Loans May Be Right For You

It’s a testament to the complexity of the real estate transaction that after twelve years selling real estate full-time I still learn new things and encounter various twists for the first time on a regular basis.  Today at a closing I learned three things I didn’t know about MassHousing loans.

Mortgages from MassHousing have become more and more popular in the last few years with first time homebuyers.  They allow for a low down payment and since nobody seems to be offering “blends” – second mortgages that make up for down payments under 20% – a Mass Housing loan without mortgage insurance is an attractive option for many buyers.

So what do I know now about Mass Housing loans that I didn’t know before?

– You have to be an owner occupant as long as you have a Mass Housing mortgage.  Even years down the road, if you still have your MassHousing mortgage, you can’t opt to rent out your place.  You can buy a multi-family with a MassHousing loan but it still has to be your primary residence.

– You may have to move into the place you just bought with a mortage from MassHousing within 30 days.  Most lenders require you to move in within 60 days – giving you some time for renovations, etc. – but Mass Housing cuts that period in half.  I’m not sure this applies to all MassHousing loans – I found info that varies on other sites but this was a requirement of the buyer’s loan today.

– There’s the potential for paying back some of the MassHousing benefit you received if you sell before nine years have passed.  Talk to your lender to get the particulars – it has to do with your income going up beyond certain levels as well as the profit you make when you sell.  Mass Housing may reimburse you  if you’re subject to this “recapture tax” – again, make sure you ask your lender to explain how this works.

A good lender who offers MassHousing loans can explain these provisions and more.  If you’re interested in Mass Housing loans or other mortgage products that fit your particular circumstances give Kevin Greeley of NEMoves a call at 781-929-4147.

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Watertown MA Real Estate Market Review

Watertown MA Real Estate Report

Watertown MA Real Estate Review

I’ve been previewing a lot of Watertown properties recently so it seems like it’s high time for a Watertown MA real estate market review.  As we head into the holidays and real estate takes a bit of a pause let’s see how real estate sales did in Watertown in 2012.

Properties on the Market in Watertown MA

As of today there are just 52 residential properties on the market in Watertown MA that are listed on the MLS.  This time of year tends to be a low point for listings as most sellers opt to wait until after the 1st of the year once we’re in the holiday season.  But inventory is particularly low this year.  Last year at this time there were 82 Watertown properties listed for sale in the MLS.  Inventory has dropped by 36.6%.

Pickings are even slimmer than these numbers suggest.  16 of the 52 properties are actually under agreement.  They’re listed as “red active” – still showing as active but listed in red on the agent’s view because the seller has already accepted an offer.

Watertown MA Real Estate Sales

355 residential properties sold in Watertown in the last year.  These properties were  on the market an average of 72 days.  On average, Watertown real estate sold for 98% of the asking price.

The year before, 313 properties sold in Watertown.  Despite limited inventory, the number of real estate sales is up by 13%.  Days on market have decreased 20% and properties are selling for closer to asking price than they did a year ago when they on average sold for 96% of list price.

Single Family Houses Sold in Watertown

Watertown single family house sales held steady.  In the last year 91 houses have sold vs. 88 in the year before.  Average days on market is down to 65 days from 73 days the year before.

The median price for a house sold in Watertown held steady as well – $429,910 vs. $431,250 the year before.  What did you get for $430,000?   In 2012 that bought you a three bedroom, two bath Cape.

Condo Sales in Watertown

Lots more condos sold this year than last.  204 condos have sold in the last 12 months vs. 157 in the year before.  Days on market went down to 83 from 118 the year before.  The median price of a condo sold in Watertown in the last year was $328,500.

What did you get for $328,000 in Watertown?  In 2012 it bought you a 1270 sq.ft. two-bedroom condo with two baths and garage parking in a large complex.   Or you could have purchased a renovated 1100 sq.ft. two-bedroom condominium with one bath in a two-family house with 2 outdoor parking spaces.

Watertown Multi-Families

Fewer multi-family houses sold in Watertown this year.  60 multi-unit houses sold over the last 12 months vs. 68 in the previous 12 months.  That probably is due to fewer multis being listed for sale – just four are on MLS right now.  That low inventory meant that multi-families sold much more quickly – average days on market dropped to 45 days from 89 days the year before.  The median sale price in the last year was $532,500.

SEARCH FOR WATERTOWN HOUSES & CONDOS

SEARCH FOR WATERTOWN MULTI-FAMILIES

Do you have a property to sell in Watertown? Or are you hoping to move to Watertown?  I can help.  Give me a call at 617-504-1737 or send me an email via the Contact Me form.   Liz Bolton, ReMax Destiny

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Holiday Fairs This Weekend

Head out to a holiday fair this weekend to shop and eat

Head out to a holiday fair this weekend to shop and eat

‘Tis the season for holiday fairs – this is one of the big weekends.  Here are some local fairs scheduled for Saturday, December 8, 2012.  I’m tempted to stop by all of them!

75th Annual Christmas Fair at Christ Church in Harvard Square Cambridge

This is the quintessential holiday fair with crafts, books, attic treasures, baked goods, holiday greens and more. 

Christ Church, Zero Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
Saturday, December 8, 2012 from 10 am to 3 pm

Holiday Fair at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford

Jewelrey, baked goods, arts and crafts, stocking stuffers and more

UU Church, 147 High Street, Medford, MA
Saturday, December 8, 2012 from 10 am to 4 pm

Youth Holiday Craft Fair

Featuring crafts by local youths ages 8 to 18 most priced at $5 or less

Robbins Library Community Room, 700 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA
Saturday, December 8, 2012 from 2 to 4 pm

GUMC Holy Berry Fair in Everett

Here’s another classic holiday fair featuring handmade crocheted and knitted items, holiday gifts, a white elephant table, baked goods, and more.   Don’t eat before you go – coffee and donuts will be available in the morning, a buffet lunch will be served, and there’s a “cookie walk”.

Glendale United Methodist Church, 392 Ferry Street, Everett, MA
Saturday, December 8, 2012 from 9 am to 2 pm

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Cambridge Houses Selling for Over Asking Price

Cambridge Houses Selling for Over Asking Price

Cambridge Houses Selling for Over Asking Price

2012 has been a year of bidding wars in Cambridge.  Just how often are they happening?  I decided to take a look at the numbers of Cambridge houses selling for over asking price.  How many houses in Cambridge sell for over asking?

As of yesterday, 117 houses had sold in Cambridge since January 1st.  Of the 117:

48 sold for over asking

11 sold for full price

58 sold for less than asking price

So, slightly more than half of all Cambridge houses sold to date in 2012 sold for full price or more.

In fact, this is the first year that I recall seeing the MLS report I run with a Sale to List Price ratio for all sales at more than 100%.  In other words, on average, Cambridge houses have sold for more than asking price in 2012.  The sale to list price ratio for Cambridge houses sold in 2012 is 102%.  That number is usually high – somewhere in the 90s – but this is the first time I recall seeing the total – not just one price band – exceed 100%.

Those numbers don’t tell the whole story.  While almost half of the houses sold for less than full price often the discount was rather negligible – a few thousand on a house selling for hundreds of thousands.  Just a handful sold for discounts of 7 to 11% off the asking price.

The premiums paid in multiple bids however was often much larger – $516,000 for a house priced at $399,000; $$450,000 for a house with an asking price of $369,000; $3,150,000 for a house priced at $2,400,000, etc.  A number of sale prices were 20 to 30%+ over the asking price.

Let’s hope inventory builds in 2013 – we don’t need more bidding wars – we need more listings!

 

If you’re hoping to sell your Cambridge home for top dollar or if you’re hoping to buy and want some expert guidance in how to prevail in this market, give me a call – I’d be happy to help.   Liz Bolton, ReMax Destiny, Cambridge.  617-504-1737.

~~~~~

 

Categories: Buyer Info, Seller Info

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What Happens On A Home Inspection

What Happens On a Home Inspection?

What Happens On a Home Inspection?

Ok – your offer was accepted.  Congratulations! Chances are the next step is to get a home inspection scheduled.  Wondering what happens on a home inspection?  Here’s an overview:

What Happens On A Home Inspection

Typically your home inspector starts on the exterior of the property.  He’ll be looking at the siding, the trim, the foundation and the roof.

Then we’re off to the basement since as one home inspector says “that’s where the fun is!”  A good home inspector will go through the cellar one system at a time and look at the plumbing, the heating, the electrical and the foundation.  He’ll be looking for any evidence of current or past pest problems though if conditions warrant you may consider getting a separate pest inspection by a specialist.

An inspector typically is not checking for lead paint – that’s a separate inspection by another specialist.  The inspector is also not looking at the smoke or carbon monoxide alarms since Massachusetts law requires that those will be inspected by the local Fire Department prior to the sale of the house.

Upstairs the inspector will go room to room with more time being spent in the kitchen and bath[s].

Your inspector will be taking notes and it helps if you take notes too.  You’ll be getting a report that outlines the inspector’s findings. You may get the inspector’s report on the spot or it may be emailed to you afterwards.  Ideally you want ask the inspector when you first call for an appointment how long it will take to get your report – particularly if you’re up against the agreed upon inspection deadline in your offer.

With a good inspector, by the time you’re done you should have an understanding of any issues to add to your to-do list, a grasp of how the mechanicals in your house work, and a good sense of what you need to do for ongoing maintenance and emergencies.  You’ll be a homeowner soon!

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