Cambridge Home Sales in August 2009

Cambridge Homes Sales Report

Cambridge Homes Sales Report

Phew – the last market report for August – here’s a look at Cambridge home sales in August 2009.

On the Market in Cambridge on 8/31/09

On August 31, 2009  there were  290 homes for sale in Cambridge MA, down from 356 one month before.  Inventory tends to dip in August because sellers – and agents – think it’s better to wait to put properties on the market until vacations are over and the fall market begins.  After Labor Day new listings come on the market at a fairly brisk pace – witness our office’s tour of 25 new listings this week (believe me – I love touring houses but 25 is pushing it even for me – I could barely walk by time we were done).   

Asking prices ranged from $212,000 to $4,850,000. Homes had been on the market an average of 140 days.

Homes Sold In Cambridge In August 2009

111 home sales closed in Cambridge during August for prices between $200,000 and $2,400,000.  The average sales price was $509,963.  The median sales price was $430,000.  Average days on market was 69.

12 single family homes sold in August for sale prices ranging from $395,000 to $2,400,000.  These houses had been on the market for an average of 55 days and sold for an average of 98% of list price.

93 Cambridge condos sold in August.  Sales prices ranged from $200,000 to $1,200,000.  The median condo sales price was $410,000.  Condominiums sold for an average of 98% of the asking price.  Average days on market was 72.

6 multi-unit houses sold last month for sale prices from $550,000 to $1,095,000. The median sales price was $700,000.  Average days on market was 56. 

The total value of homes sold in Cambridge in August 2009 was $56,605,850.

Information from MLSpin.

Last month’s numbers:

July 2009 Cambridge Real Estate Market Report

SEARCH FOR CONDOS FOR SALE IN CAMBRIDGE

SEARCH FOR SINGLE FAMILY HOMES FOR SALE IN CAMBRIDGE

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New Book About Harvard Square

NECN had a segment the other morning on a new book about Harvard Square – Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950.  As soon as the segment ended I called Porter Square Books and reserved two copies, one for myself and one for my parents.

New Book About Harvard Square, Cambridge Massachusetts

New Book About Harvard Square, Cambridge Massachusetts

My dad grew up in Cambridge and one story that’s regularly retold in my family is how he and his high school friends in the late 1940s would jump in their cars, drive to the Square, pull up and park, and go in for a bite to eat at the cafeteria, Albiani’s, on Mass Ave.  The reason the story tickled our funny bones was how far fetched we would all find it – how could they have found three or four empty parking spots all in a row?  Different time for sure.

My mother became a fan of the Square in the 70s when we would take the train in from the burbs to shop and take in the sights.  The book, with its coverage through the decades, had something for all of us.

Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950 by Mo Lotman

Measuring 12″ by 10″ and 240 pages long this is a *big* and beautiful book jam packed with photographs.  When I heard about it I thought it would simply be a collection of photographs – and if it were only that it would be fascinating. Lotman has dug deep for the photos in the book – in archives and in amateur photographers’ personal collections.  It’s an amazing look at Harvard Square through the decades.

But the book isn’t just a photography book – it’s much more.  It’s all about what makes this such a special place – the people, the politics, the shops, the restaurants, the buildings – it’s a rich tapestry and a wonderful record of the last 60 years Cambridge-style.  Streetscapes, interior views, ephemera, news photos – you name it – it’s all here in chock-a-block full, endlessly fascinating pages.

Inside Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950

Inside Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950

The book is organized by decades and pictures are both dated and annotated to direct you to other views or info about the same scene.  Thankfully there’s an index – you’ll be tempted to take a quick look to see if the places you remember are included here.   I checked to see if one of my favorite teenage haunts – Dazzle – was in the book – yes – and was delighted to find four references to one of my regular stops, Reading International.  And for my Dad, Albiani’s is in one of the full page photographs that open the book. There’s so much here that will bring back your favorite Harvard Square memories.

Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950 is the ideal coffee table book since everyone who spots it will be tempted to pore through its pages.  It’s the perfect gift for anyone who’s ever lived in or spent time in Cambridge.

Author Mo Lotman will be at the Harvard Coop on September 12, 2009 to discuss the book and sign copies as part of the “Bookish Ball”.  The book’s official launch will be held at Club Passim, 47 Palmer Street in Cambridge on September 15, 2009 from 7 pm to midnight.

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Irving Street Cambridge – Real Estate, Architecture and History

105 Irving Street Cambridge MA

105 Irving Street Cambridge MA

Irving Street Cambridge – Real Estate, Architecture and History.  Irving Street is close to Harvard Square in Cambridge in what real estate agents often refer to as the Divinity School neighborhood. Much of the street is part of what once was the Shady Hill estate.  Lined with large, handsome houses and rich in history, Irving Street is one of my favorite streets in Cambridge.

Irving Street History

Irving Street was named for author Washington Irving, best known today for his stories “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle”.  While parts of the street were laid out earlier in the 1800s, the street was part of the subdivision designed by landscape architect Charles Eliot in 1886 when the 34 acre Shady Hill estate was subdivided.

Well known residents of Irving Street included:

  • Julia and Paul Child at 103 Irving Street
  • Poet e.e. cummings grew up across the street at no. 104 
  • Psychologist and philospher William James, brother of Henry James, built no. 95 in 1889 and lived there until his death in 1910

On a lighter note, I found at least one reference to a house on Irving appearing in the movie Love Story as the house where the couple played by Ryan O’Neil and Ali McGraw lived. Anybody know which house this is?

Irving Street Architecture

Twenty year deed restrictions were put in place when the Shady Hill estate was divided.  Only single family houses could be built and there were minimum cost requirements.  There is a uniformity to the streetscape as a result – all of the houses are large and are separated from their neighbors on generous lots. 

The street is almost entirely residential with the exceptions of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at one end and the Irving House Bed and Breakfast at the other.  There is also Harvard housing at no. 28, Haskins Hall, a 1926 brick apartment building.

Most of the houses on the street are Colonial Revivals or late examples of the Queen Anne style. No. 114 is a Craftsman style house. There is a large Mansard at no. 23 and a more recent addition of  a group of Bell and Fandetti townhouses at no. 36.

Here’s a tour of the houses on Irving Street, starting at the end of the street near Francis Avenue and walking back, cross Kirkland Street to the opposite end at Cambridge Street.  By clicking on the photos you can get a larger view.

 

 

Irving Street Cambridge Real Estate

Recent sales on the street have included:

  • An unrenovated two-family sold for $1,075,000 in 2009
  • Julia Child’s former home sold for $3,700,000 earlier this year
  • One of the Bell and Fandetti 1970s townhouses sold for $601,050 in 2007
  • A fully renovated two-family house sold in 2007 for $2,215,000

CHECK FOR REAL ESTATE FOR SALE ON IRVING STREET

 

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Berkeley Street Cambridge – Real Estate, Architecture and History

Richard Henry Dana Jr.'s House on Berkeley Street in Cambridge MA

Richard Henry Dana Jr.'s House on Berkeley Street in Cambridge MA

Just one block long, Berkeley Street is remarkably rich in history and architecture.  Located just blocks from the heart of Harvard Square behind Brattle Street, the street is one of the most attractive – and interesting – in Cambridge.  Berkeley Street is part of the Old Cambridge Historic District, regulated by the Cambridge Historical Commission.  The street was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

 History of Berkeley Street

Part of Berkeley Street was once land encompassed by the large Vassal-Craigie estate.  Another portion was owned by the Hill family.  It was laid out in two parts from 1851 to 1852 and named to honor philosopher Bishop George Berkeley.

The street has a rich history and was home to several Cambridge authors:

  • Richard Henry Dana Jr, author of Two Years Before The Mast, lived at 4 Berkeley Street for 17 years. Dana’s house was behind the Brattle Street home of his friend, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  It was Dana who gave the street its name.
  • Another of Dana’s friends, author and editor William Dean Howells, rented across the street at 3 Berkeley Street for two years
  • Historian John Fiske lived at 22 Berkeley Street. Fiske was a leading proponent of Darwin’s theories. In an 1898 article about Fiske, the New York Times described 22 Berkeley Street as “a substantial square house of the mansard roofed type, so popular twenty years ago” and gives a detailed description of Fiske’s expansive library.
  • No. 15 was home to a private school for girls, the Berkeley Street School, from 1863 to 1912 when it merged with the Cambridge School for Girls
  • Frank Bolles, author, naturalist and Secretary of Harvard, lived at no. 6

Architecture on Berkeley Street

The Old Cambridge volume of the Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge by Bainbridge Bunting and Robert H. Nylander notes that Berkeley Street has “the best concentration of Bracketed and Mansard houses in the city, with textbook examples at 4, 5, 20, and 22.”

Douglas Shand-Tucci, in his book Built in Boston: City and Suburb, 1800-2000, describes 16 Berkeley Street, built in 1905, as having

“some of the same design elements one sees in the Prairie Style – the blocky, geometric form, the horizontal quality, strongly reinforced by low, lidlike, and wide projecting roofs…”

15 Berkeley Street is in the Italian Villa style.  Several Queene Annes are on the street and the most recent house on the street, no. 24 is a brick ended Colonial Revival built in 1936.

Berkeley Street Cambridge Real Estate

Homes on the street are large, as are the lots, making real values quite high.  In 2007 a portion of one of the large houses, deeded as a single family and about 1500 sq.ft. in size, sold for $875,000.  A free standing single family home sold in 2006 for $4,000,000 and in 2007 another sold for $4,935,000.

You can search the MLS for Cambridge homes for sale by using the link below.  You’ll have full access to the MLS and can adjust the price range, towns, style and more.

CLICK HERE TO SEARCH FOR CAMBRIDGE HOUSES FOR SALE

 Here are photos of some of the houses on Berkeley Street. If you click on the image you can get a larger view with additional details about the houses:

 

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Moving Houses

From my collection of vintage house moving photographs

From my collection of vintage house moving photographs

Moving Houses  

 Both the lecturers whose Cambridge Discovery Days tours I attended last Saturday happened to mention how common house moves were before electric wires were strung through Cambridge neighborhoods.

As much as I dislike overhead wires (you would think it’s still the Wild West! – why on earth do we put up with these ugly wires strung down our streets?) it hadn’t occurred to me that it was the advent of overhead wiring that put an end to the moving of houses.

Moving houses was once a fairly common undertaking. Street widening, changing neighborhoods, economizing – all were reasons to move a house.  Sometimes a portion of a house was removed and moved for a family member.

Once you start digging into the history of Cambridge’s buildings you’ll discover many that were moved around town.  Nowadays with those dratted wires – not to mention street lights, signs, and overpasses – moving a house or building is a much bigger undertaking.   But with deep pockets almost anything is possible.

In 2007 Harvard spent something on the order of $1,000,000 to move three mansard structures down Mass Avenue close to Harvard Square.  Two three story-mansard houses and a matching mansard carriage house were moved to facilitate a building project.  Here’s a video of the moving houses:

 

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Cambridge Real Estate Market Review – July 2009

Welcome to the Cambridge Home Sales Report

Welcome to the Cambridge Home Sales Report

It’s that time of the month again – time for a quick look back at the state of the real estate market in Cambridge MA in July 2009:  

On Market Snapshot

On July 31, 2009  there were 359 residential properties on the market in Cambridge MA.  That’s a significant drop from a month ago when 410 properties were active on the market.   

Asking prices ranged from $185,000 to $4,850,000. Average days on market was 121.

Cambridge Real Estate Sales during July 2009

124 residential property sales closed in Cambridge during July – the second month in a row where closed sales increased more than 25% over the previous month’s closings.  The average sales price was $571,333.  The median sales price was $442,000.  Average days on market was 68.

19 single family homes sold in July priced from $366,700 to $3,746,000.  Houses that sold had been on the market for an average of 68 days and sold for an average of 98% of asking price.

101 condos sold in July in Cambridge.  Wow!  Sales prices ranged from $200,000 to $1,400,000.  The median condo sales price in July was $420,000.  Condominiums sold for an average of 98% of the asking price and were on the market an average of 70 days.

4 Cambridge multi-family houses sold in July 2009 for sale prices from $676,500 to $1,000,000. The median sales price was $797,500.  Average days on market was 27. 

Total closed residential real estate sales volume in Cambridge in July was $70,845,340.

Information from MLSpin.

Last month’s numbers:

June 2009 Cambridge Real Estate Market Report

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Green Street Cambridge – Real Estate, History and More

Green Street Cambridge – Real Estate, History and More   Green Street, in the Riverside neighborhood, is popular with Cambridge real estate buyers. It offers a variety of architectural styles and a convenient location just one block from Mass Avenue between Central Square and Harvard Square offering proximity to the Charles River, MIT, and Harvard University.

Two-family Houses on Green Street in Cambridge MA

Two-family Houses on Green Street in Cambridge MA

Most of the land lining Green beyond Brookline Street, by University Park, is today owned by MIT.  A number of multi-unit buildings and commercial establishments line the street on the blocks behind Central Square as you head towards Western Avenue.  Beyond Sellers Street Green Street is primarily residential.

History of Green Street in Cambridge

Green Street was laid out in sections starting in 1801 when the first stretch from Pearl Street to Pleasant Street was laid out.  It was originally named First Parallel Street.  In 1806 the street was extended to Hancock Street and in 1836 it was extended to Putnam Avenue.  By 1900 it had reached its current length from Putnam to Landsdowne Street.

Green Street Cambridge Real Estate

Houses on Green Street today include triple deckers built in the late 1800s to early 1900s, brick rowhouses, wood double houses and row houses, and single family homes most built in the mid to late 1800s.  Some modern townhouse condos were built in the 1990s.

#516 is one of two unusual round buildings in the Riverside neighborhood – clearly ahead of their time when built in 1963.  Originally built as 16 apartments, the units were converted to condos in 2005.  A condo in the building sold this year for $350,000.

Real Estate Sales in the last two years included:

  • Condos in triple-deckers sold for $319,000 and $519,000
  • 1990s townhouse condos sold for $692,500 and $775,000
  • A renovated condo in a wood rowhouse sold for $$435,000
  • Two units in newly renovated two-unit house sold for $449,000 and $550,000

Green Street Homes for Sale

Cambridge Homes for Sale

 

Here are some more photographs taken on Green Street in Cambridge:

 

 

If you’re interested in selling or buying a home on Green Street in Cambridge contact Liz Bolton, a Cambridge real estate agent at the Huron Avenue Office of Coldwell Banker at 617-504-1737.

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Cambridge Pothole Hotline

City of Cambridge Pothole Hotline    I really love Cambridge city government.  So often I’m impressed by what the City of Cambridge offers to its residents.  And I’m doubly impressed when I see how low the property taxes are in Cambridge for a good portion of the city’s home owners.

One nifty service that Cambridge offers is a variety of hotlines. Simple – but really handy – who doesn’t want an official place to lodge complaints?  You would think that the need for the Cambridge Pothole Hotline would have passed since potholes proliferate in spring.  Not so however – there are still a lot of potholes out there, perhaps due in part to all the rain we’ve been getting.

If you spot a pothole in Cambridge call the DPW’s Pothole Hotline at 617-349-4854.

I also love youtube and have come to realize you can find just about anything there – like this video on how a pothole is formed (easily as it turns out – no wonder we have so many pot holes):

 

 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNyg0CttU8Y[/youtube]

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