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.

Average Cost Per Square Foot for Cambridge Real Estate

Tape MeasurerThe average cost per square foot for Cambridge real estate is a figure that often catches the eye of buyers, of appraisers, and of real estate agents.

While it is an interesting point of information when pricing  or buying real estate in Cambridge, price per square foot has its limitations.  Unless the properties are similar in most respects – parking or no parking, renovated or not, lot size, bedroom and bathroom count, age of construction or renovation, etc. – the price per square foot comparison doesn’t tell you a lot.  A seemingly out of whack price per square foot can make sense if the house or condo in question is substantially better (or worse!) than other properties.  And an average price per square foot shouldn’t be the definitive answer when determining value since all sorts of variables can push the value up or down.

Average per square foot prices can be useful when comparing certain properties such as condos in similar buildings or single families in a neighborhood.  Useful more as a guide than a definitive method of pricing, price per square foot can help highlight outliers – properties that are priced well  below others on a price per square foot basis or properties that are priced well above what others of  a similar size command.

Average price per square foot is also impacted by the size of the condo or house in question.  Average prices per square foot are highest for small units and are lower for larger units.  That makes sense since the expensive square feet in a house are the kitchen and baths – and you only have so many of those no matter how large the house or condominium.

With all of these caveats in mind, here are the average prices per square foot for Cambridge real estate sold in the last twelve months:

96 single families sold in the last 12 months in Cambridge.

  • Average price per square foot for a Cambridge single family house: $427
  • Median price per square foot for Cambridge single family homes: $385.26
  • Highest price per square foot paid for a house in Cambridge in the last 12 months: $930.60 for an exquisitely renovated small single family between Brattle Street and Mount Auburn

177 one-bedroom condos sold in Cambridge in the last 12 months.

  • Average cost per square foot for a Cambridge one-bedroom condo: $478
  • Median price per square foot for a one-bedroom condo in Cambridge: $476
  • Lowest price per square foot: $253.69
  • Highest price per square foot: $655.02

342 Cambridge two-bedroom condos sold in the last 12 months.

  • Average sale price per square foot for two-bedroom Cambridge condos: $437
  • Median price per square foot for two-bedroom condos in Cambridge: $424
  • Lowest cost per square foot: $171.93
  • Highest price per square foot: $1,144.54 for a condo at the Esplanade with amazing views of the Charles River and Boston skyline
  • If you want to search for Cambridge real estate, click on the button below.

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    Elizabeth Bolton is a Cambridge real estate agent at the Huron Avenue office of Coldwell Banker.  Contact Liz  if you still have questions about the average cost per square foot for Cambridge real estate.

    Categories: Real Estate Market Info
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    Garfield Street – Cambridge Real Estate Rambles

    garfield-street-pinkish-red-victorianGarfield Street Cambridge – Real Estate Rambles.  Garfield Street, in the Agassiz neighborhood of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been one of my favorite Cambridge streets for years.  Architecturally appealing and in an unbeatable location, Garfield Street is very popular with Cambridge real estate buyers.

    Just one block long, running from Mass Ave. to Oxford Street, Garfield Street is lined with an amazing collection of large, beautifully restored Victorian houses.  Located midway between Porter Square and Harvard Square, the street is just around the corner from restaurants, boutiques, cafes, museums, and more.

    Tucked in among the trees that edge and arch over the street is a classic older brick apartment building at 61 Garfield Street and on the other side, almost hidden behind the leafy branches at 76 Garfield Street, a modern apartment building built in the 1970s, both now converted to condominiums.

    At one point, Harvard University owned several of the houses on Garfield Street.  Harvard sold the houses in the late 1980s and 1990s. Over the years the street has grown to be more and more attractive as house after house was restored.

    Garfield Street Cambridge – Real Estate Sales

    The grand Victorians on Garfield Street are not inexpensive. Recent real estate sales include:

    • 32 Garfield Street sold in 2002 for $1,625,000
    • 36 Garfield Street sold in 2003 for $1,550,000
    • 64 Garfield Street sold in 2006 for $2,350,000

    If you’re not in the market for one of the large homes on the street, #61 and #76 offer options for condo buyers. 

    Recent sales of condos at 61 Garfield Street include:

    • A third floor one-bedroom condo sold for $377,000 in 2007
    •  A second floor renovated one-bedroom condo sold for $425,000 in 2007
    • A top floor two-bedroom two-bath condo sold for $472,983 in 2008

    At 76 Garfield Street a three-bedroom condo sold in 2008 for $433,000 and a three-bedoom condo was recently listed for sale for $425,000.

    Click on the button below to search for Cambridge real estate. You can also modify your search to search by address if you want to check for houses or condos currently for sale on Garfield Street.

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    Orchard Street in Cambridge and Somerville is another special street.  Check back often for more posts about great streets in Cambridge and nearby towns.

    Here are some more photographs of Garfield Street in Cambridge MA:

    Garfield St slideshow
     

    Garfield Street – Cambridge Real Estate Rambles was written by Elizabeth Bolton, a real estate agent at the Huron Avenue office of Coldwell Banker.

    Categories: Area Info
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    Black Swallowwort is Invading Cambridge

    swallowwort-in-CambridgeMy nemesis – black swallowwort – is popping up all over Cambridge.  I’ve been out and about in the last few days and found patches of it in many front yards in Cambridge. And no question about it – it’s in Somerville, Medford, and Arlington too.  In fact, it’s becoming an issue all over Massachusetts.

    Black swallowwort looks a bit like milkweed.  But instead of the fuzzy, lumpy pods of regular milkweed the swallowwort seed pods are thinner and smooth, shiny green.  It’s a rapidly growing vine and if allowed to flourish will produce numerous pods. Last summer I would find large stands of swallow-wort covering chain link fences and dripping with pods.  Unfortunately I think some people actually like it since it does do a good job of covering up those chain link fences.

    I found black swallowwort in my yard a couple of years ago but didn’t know what it was at the time.  But it was growing so fast – twining around other plants, sprouting up everywhere I looked – that I searched online for it.  I was horrified by what I learned.  Search for it online and you’ll be ready for all out war after you learn more about it.

    Black swallowwort is extremely invasive.  It will push out other vegetation and is hard to eradicate.  Like regular milkweed, the seeds from pods that are allowed to remain on the vines will spread all over the neighborhood.  Your neighbor’s swallowwort is your problem too.   Let it thrive and soon it will be all over the neighborhood pushing out other plants. 

    Swallowwort is not only a threat to vegetation – it is also believed to threaten the viability of monarch butterflies.  Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed and are thought to mistake swallowwort for milkweed.  Caterpillars hatched on swallow-wort do not survive however.

    The first year I found this invader in my yard I made the mistake of breaking off the vines but leaving them to wither with the pods still attached.  Unfortunately, even if the vine is dead, the pods will still eventually release their seeds.  The pods must be removed and disposed of carefully – I wrapped them up in foil or tightly closed bags. Some recommend burning.

    Last year I went on an anti-swallowwort crusade.  Anywhere I went I would pull off pods and filled bags with them.  I listed a house for sale in Cambridge that had black swallowwort climbing everywhere in the garden.  I filled trash bags with the vines.  Once I started to look I found it everywhere – all over Cambridge, Somerville, Medford and Arlington. 

    I’ll post more photos of swallowwort as it matures.  The picture taken above was taken in Cambridge in mid-May.  Right now the pods aren’t out but the flowers are on the vine. The flowers are small and purple. The leaves are spade shaped and shiny green – sort of like lilac leaves but shinier.  The way the vine will curl around whatever it comes in contact with is very distinctive.

    If you see pods when you’re out and about – pick them and dispose of them.  If you discover swallowwort in your yard the only effective method of eradication is repeated sprayings of herbicide.  Pulling the vines will not work – there is a large underground network of roots and you can’t stay ahead of it by pulling it.  Get an industrial sized bottle of herbicide and get ready to do battle.

    Categories: Living Here
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    The Cape Cod House in Cambridge and Nearby

    dormered-cape-divinity-neighborhood-cambridgeThe Cape Cod architectural style or as we call it – the Cape – is very popular in Massachusetts and New England though not very common in Cambridge.  In Cambridge it is often an anomaly – the random Cape spotted here and there – a standout on a street otherwise lined with Victorians, triple deckers, or row houses.

    This classic architectural style has roots going back hundreds of years and early examples from the 1600s through the 1800s will be found in many New England towns. William Morgan, in his book The Cape Cod Cottage describes the house as:

    “The Cape Cod cottage is the nearly perfect house.  A combination of necessity and tradition, the Cape Cod has been a fundamental, iconic, and enduring expression of the American home for almost four hundred years.”

    In style, the Cape is a one and a half story house with a steep pitched roof.  Early Capes often had a center chimney, others, particularly those built in the twentieth century, have an exterior chimney at one end of the house.  A variant is the “half cape” with the entrance door and chimney at one end and two windows to the side. Later many of these would be expanded to full size with the other half added on the far side of the chimney and door resulting in the familiar and symmetrical facade of a center entrance flanked by two windows on each side. 

    Capes in Cambridge, Arlington and Nearby Towns

    In Cambridge the lovely Colonial Revival cape seen above can be found in the Divinity neighborhood.  There’s also a Cape on Hurlbut Street that always catches my eye and another part brick cape on Huron Ave.  In Cambridgeport there’s a Cape built in early 1800s for a ropeworker and renovated at the end of the 1900s by David Aposhian.  There are other Capes in Cambridge of course but I think many early capes were replaced with larger houses or buildings over the years.

    Most Cambridge neighborhoods weren’t part of the revival of Capes in the twentieth century because the neighborhoods had already been built up.  Arlington, Watertown, Medford and Belmont have far greater numbers of Capes built in the 1930s and in the 1950s to 1960s.

    Twentieth Century Capes

    Many Capes were built in the 1930s, often in a Colonial Revival style, in neighborhoods like Arlington’s Kelwyn Manor.  These capes often have very charming architectural details – archways, built-ins, nooks, and nice hardware.

    Capes Built in the 1950 and 1960s

    arlington-cape-built-in-19571The next big boom in Cape style houses came in the 1950s and early 1960s during a building boom that resulted in street after Cape lined street in new neighborhoods.  This was the last period when solid, quality building materials were a matter of course even in starter homes – plaster walls, hardwood floors, and fully tiled baths.  The cape at right was built in Arlington in 1957.

    My parents’ first house, bought new when I was two and a half, was one of these capes so whenever I show one nowadays to a real estate buyer I know just what to expect.  Four rooms down – a living room, dining room, kitchen and bedroom and upstairs two good sized bedrooms, or every so often one large and two small bedrooms.

    These capes almost always had a full bath on the first floor.  Upstairs the dormer or its absence determined whether or not there was a full bath, half bath or none.  A full shed dormer across the back expands the bedrooms and allows for a second full bath.  Sometimes a smaller dormer would be added just so a bath could be put in on the bedroom level.  An under the eaves crawlspace provides storage – and a good place for hide and seek. 

    It’s always fun to see how today’s homeowners have updated the capes of the 1950s and ’60s.  Many have opened up the wall between the dining room and kitchen, installing updated counters, cabinets and appliances and transforming the space into an open, modern kitchen and dining area.  Many have made good use of the lower level and finished the basement for use as a rec room or office.  Add an updated bath or two and these houses are good to go for the next fifty years.

    Capes Continue To Be Built

    Capes remain a very popular architectural style in New England.  The capes being built today are usually larger than those of fifty years ago.  Modern capes often have features that are meant to appeal to today’s buyers such as an open floor plan, a great room, and a first floor master bedroom suite.

    Resources for Aficionados and Owners of Capes

    Here are some books about the Cape Cod architectural style:

    Updating Classic America Capes: Design Ideas for Renovating, Remodeling, and Building New (2003) by Jane Gitlin has wonderful ideas for transforming an older Cape

    The Cape Cod Cottage (2006) by William Morgan has an excellent essay about the Cape and a beautiful collection of black and white photographs of Capes through the centuries

    The Cape Cod House: America’s Most Popular Home (1982) by Stanley Schuler is a well illustrated architectural history of the Cape style.

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    Other Architectural Styles in Cambridge and Nearby:

    The Greek Revival
    The Bungalow
    The Triple-Decker
    Second Empire Mansards

     

     

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    Somerville and Cambridge Schoolhouse Condos

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    Lowe School Condos in Davis Square

    Somerville and Cambridge have several schoolhouse condominium associations and more on the way.  Schoolhouse condos are popular with real estate buyers who appreciate the large windows, high ceilings, and vintage details often found in these condominiums.

    My favorite school was in a similar large old brick building, the Dale Street School in Medfield Mass.  I still remember the breezes that came through the oversized windows, the wide hallways and stairs, and the water bubblers that lined the hall.  Happily it’s still used as a school but if it’s ever converted to condos I’ll be first in line.  The converted schools in Cambridge and Somerville give real estate buyers the opportunity to relive – just a bit – their schooldays.

    Condos in Converted Schools in Cambridge

    The Lincoln School Condos on Walden and Mead Streets are very close to Porter Square.  This large former school has been divided into just twenty condominiums, with a number of spacious condos measuring more than 1500 sq. ft.  There’s less of a schoolhouse feel in these condos though the large windows and super high ceilings make for dramatic and open spaces.  Condos at the Lincoln School turn over infrequently.  The last sale in MLS was a 1000 sq. ft. condo that sold in 2006 for $430,000.

     The French School condos at 69 Harvey Street in North Cambridge are close to Davis Square.  The  bike path to Davis crosses Mass Ave at the end of Harvey Street.  There are sixteen condos on four floors in the former school.  The condos have a loft like feel with exposed brick walls and high ceilings.  A two-bedroom condo on the second floor sold this year for $415,000.  Read more about the French School condos.

    Dana Park Place in Cambridgeport is Cambridge’s newest condo development in a converted school.  The former school has been transformed into 23 condos and more units will be built in the former church next door.  The buildings overlook the recently refurbished Dana Park and Central Square is right down the street. The condos have luxurious finishes, central air conditioning, and garage parking.

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    North Cambridge School Conversion

    New Schoolhouse Condos Coming to Cambridge?  It looks like it – these buildings, between Middlesex Street and Yerxa Road in North Cambridge, once housed St. John’s R. C. School and are now in the midst of construction.  There’s a notice for a special hearing to construct decks posted but I don’t yet know much about this project.  I’ll add more details when I get them.

    Somerville Condos in Former Schools

    The Carr Schoolhouse Condos on Atherton Street in the Spring Hill neighborhood are some of the most charming schoolhouse condos around.  There’s lots of original oak woodwork, beautiful windows, and even blackboards preserved in some units.  There are studios, one bedrooms, and two-bedroom condominiums.  Spring Hill is near Porter Square and Harvard Square isn’t that far away.  Read more about the Carr School condominiums.

    The former Lowe School on Morrison Avenue in Davis Square is another popular school house condo association.  The former school now houses 16 condominiums.  The condos have very high ceilings – 12′ in some units  – and condos on the third floor have private decks, some have skylights.  The location is clearly a big draw with the heart of Davis Square just a couple of blocks away.  The last condo sale in MLS at the Lowe School was two years ago when a two-bedroom condo sold for $402,000.

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    Dreaming of a schoolhouse condo of your own?  Click on the buttons below to search the MLS for Somerville and Cambridge condos.  And if you would like some help with your real estate search call me at 617-504-1737 or email me – I would be delighted to help.

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    Cambridge Real Estate Market In April 2009

    Cambridge Real Estate MarketThe Cambridge real estate market is humming – so before we get any further into May let’s look at the real estate market activity in Cambridge in April 2009.

    Cambridge Real Estate Inventory

    A the end of April 2009  there were 427 residential properties on the market in Cambridge, a significant increase from  a month before when 355 properties were listed for sale.  Cambridge real estate buyers will be happy to have more inventory to choose from.  By comparison, at this time in of the year in 2008 445 residential properties were on the market in Cambridge and in 2007 there were 485 properties listed for sale on April 30th.

    The lowest priced property was listed for $199,000, the most expensive for $4,850,000. Average days on market was 102.

    Cambridge Real Estate Sales in April 2009

    57 property sales closed in Cambridge during April with an average sales price of $528,650.  The median sales price was $422,000.  Average days on market was 114.

    3 single family sales closed in April for sales prices of $1,475,000, $1,790,000, and $1,915,126.  Average days on market was 69.

    46 condos sold in Cambridge in April. The least expensive condominium sold for $187,000.  The most expensive condo sold for $754,000.  The median condo sales price was $409,000.  Condos sold for an average of 96% of the asking price.  Average days on market was 112.

    8 multi-family houses sold in Cambridge in April. The lowest sale price for a multi-family was $520,000.  The highest price paid was $1,075,000.  The median sale price for a multi-family in Cambridge in April was $650,000.  Multi-families sold for an average of 92% of list price.  Average days on market was 144.

    Total Cambridge closed residential real estate sales volume in April was $30,133,026.

    Information from MLSpin.

      Also see:

    Cambridge Real Estate Market in January 2009
    Cambridge Real Estate Market in February 2009
    Cambridge Real Estate Market in March 2009

     

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    Categories: Real Estate Market Info
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    Celebrate Historic Preservation Month – Ball Square and Davis Square

    May is Historic Preservation Month in Somerville.  Two events are offered this Sunday, May 17, 2009 in two of my favorite neighborhoods – Ball Square and Davis Square in Somerville Massachusetts.

    Walking Tour of Ball Square Somerville

    Ed Gordon, President of the New England Chapter of the Victorian Society of America, will lead a tour of the Ball Square and Powderhouse area of Somerville this Sunday. On the From Powder House Pickles to Ball Square Brick Yards walking tour  of historic homes and sites you’ll learn about the history of the neighborhood and of Tufts University, see some of the most handsome multi-families built in the area, get to see the inside of a home or two, and finish with light refreshments at the Field House at Nathan Tufts Park.

    Cost is $10 ($8 for members of the VSA).

    Sunday, May, 17, 2009, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. 

    Meet at the Field House at Nathan Tufts Park at the corner of Broadway and College Avenue.

    History of the Davis Square Branch Library

    Architectural conservator, Sara Chase, will give a talk on Sunday afternoon titled A Jewel In the Crown: The West Branch Library.  The West Branch Library on College Avenue in Davis Square is a Carnegie Library and 100 years old this year.  I love this little library and look forward to learning more about it.

    The lecture, tour of the library and light refreshments are free and open to all. 

    Sunday, May 17, 2009, 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm. 

    50 College Avenue, Davis Square, Somerville MA.

    A vintage postcard of the library in Davis Square in 1909, the year it was built, is below. It looks just about the same today. 

    Hattie wrote on the back to her friend Gertrude:  “Our new library about ten minutes walk from the house.  Our cards have been transferred and we now take books from here.  It is much smaller than the Somerville library and the collection of books of course is not as good but then the (walking part) is very much better.” 

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    Cambridge Bike Tour – Literary Cambridge By Bike

    bicyclistsNext Saturday’s bike tour – Literary Cambridge By Bike – offers the opportunity to indulge in two of my favorite things – exercise and literature.  OK – one of my favorites.

    But for those who want a chance to explore Cambridge by bike, the ten mile tour gives cyclists the chance to travel as a group through the city accompanied by Cambridge Police Bike Patrol officers.  There will be several stops along the way for brief talks about Cambridge literary landmarks and free refreshments at the end.

    The bike tour is sponsored by the Cambridge Bicycle Committee, a group the Cambridge City Council formed in 1991 to work to improve conditions for bicycling in Cambridge.

    The Bicycle Committee has a reading list of books, mainly novels, that are set in Cambridge.  Harvard figures prominently in many of them.  Books on the list include:

    • The Good Mother, by local author Sue Miller, set in Porter Square
    • Linda Barnes’ series of detective novels feature private detective Carlotta Carlyle who calls Harvard Square home
    • The Memorial Hall Murder one of Concord author Jane Langton’s books in her series featuring Detective Homer Kelly 
    • Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club (one of my favorite books) in which Longfellow, Lowell and Holmes (Oliver Wendell not Sherlock) try to solve a series of 1865 murders 

    For the reading list and more information about this tour and previous tours see the bike tours of Cambridge website.

    The Literary Cambridge by Bike tour will take place Saturday, May 16, 2009

    The starting point is the plaza between the main entrance to the High School and the construction site for the new Cambridge library between Broadway and Cambridge Street.

    The program begins at 10:15 am and the tour starts at 10:30 am.

    In case of inclement weather the rain date is May 17, 2009 at the same time, same place.

    There is no charge for the tour.

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