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.

What Does It Cost To Sell My House In Massachusetts?

Selling a House in MassachusettsIt’s not uncommon for the check you receive at your real estate closing in Massachusetts to seem smaller than you expected.  If you don’t account for the various charges that you’ll pay in addition to the real estate commission, you may be surprised.  Here are some of the miscellaneous costs of selling a home in Massachusetts:

What’s the Transfer Tax in Massachusetts?

This fee, called a tax stamp,  is often unexpected but is one of the costs of selling your house or condo in Massachusetts.  The transfer tax is paid by the seller and the rate is currently $4.56 per $1000 of the sales price.

What Other Miscellaneous Fees and Costs Can I Expect for Selling My Home?

Attorney fees – Massachusetts is what’s sometimes referred to as an “attorney state” – buyers and seller almost always engage attorneys to advise them, represent their interests, and review and prepare the contracts and myriad of legal documents necessary to sell a home in Massachusetts.  Attorneys’ fees vary and will depend on the complexity of the transaction though some attorneys offer a fixed fee.  I’m usually not privy to what buyers or sellers are paying for legal counsel but have seen fees that ranged from$500 to $1500 and more. Consult your attorney about potential costs.

Sellers are required to have the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms tested by the local fire department before the sale closes.  The fire department will provide a smoke certificate that must be provided at the closing. The fee for the inspection and certificate for a single family or condominium ranges from $40 to $50 in Cambridge and nearby towns.  Fees for multi-unit properties will be higher. And if you’re selling a house in the ‘burbs and don’t have city or town sewer than you’ll also need to pay for a Title V septic inspection.

Final Water BillSellers must request a final water reading and pay the final water bill at the closing. Some towns and cities charge for providing the final water reading, Somerville, MA for example, charges $25 to get a final water reading.  If the water bill for your condominium is paid through your condo fee in most cases you will not need to get a final bill.

Special assessments for condos are typically paid by the seller prior to closing.  A 6D certificate indicating that no outstanding charges are due will be issued by your condo association and is required to sell your condo in Massachusetts.  Condo fees will  be prorated with the seller required to pay all condo fees due up until the closing.

Property taxes are also prorated.  If your bill is paid through a date after your closing the extra days’ payments will be refunded on the settlement sheet.  Likewise, if your last tax bill paid covered a period pre-dating the closing date the amount needed to cover property taxes up until your closing will be charged to you.

Other Charges For Selling Your Massachusetts HomeMiscellaneous charges for mailing, filing fees etc will be added to your charges on the settlement sheet.  These charges include overnight mailing, courier services, wiring fees, charges for processing mortgage discharges, and recording fees for recording various documents at the Registry of Deeds.  All told these can easily add up to several hundred dollars.

While typically paid prior to closing, sellers of condos should be aware that condominium management companies have started to charge for providing various forms and documents needed to sell your condo.  Many condo associations rely on their management company to provide the 6D certificate, fill out the condo questionnaire required by the buyer’s lender, and provide copies of budgets, minutes, and condo docs. I’ve seen charges as high as $150 for packages that include all the required documents.

Categories: Seller Info

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Get Your Keys In Cambridge

Keys Made In CambridgeIf you recently bought a new house or condo chances are you’re going to be getting some new keys made.  It’s always a good idea to change the locks when you buy a house.  You just don’t know who has keys to your new home – many copies may have been passed about over the years.

If you bought your new home in Cambridge or Somerville the place to go is Commonwealth Lock Co. on Mass Ave. in Porter Square, Cambridge.  As a Cambridge real estate agent, I get a *lot* of keys made and can attest to the quality of Commonwealth Lock’s keys. Nothing’s more frustrating than repeated trips to the key counter but Commonwealth almost always gets it right the first time.  These guys are experienced and they are good.

Commonwealth Lock Co., or “CoLoCo”, has been making keys in Porter Square since 1936.  Originally a hardware store, the lock and key operation eventually became a bigger part of the business and has been the sole focus since the 1980s.  The store caters to locksmiths who stream in and out of the store all day.

In addition to making plenty of keys at a constantly busy counter, Commonwealth Lock sells all sorts of locks, keys, and related merchandise including:

  • Bike locks
  • Window locks
  • Lockboxes – great for storing a spare set of house keys
  • Padlocks
  • Safes
  • House numbers
  • Key rings
  • Dog and cat tags
  • and assorted nifty plastic doohickies to add to your keys to make your house key stand out in the bunch

Commonwealth Lock Company is located at 1853 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusettts and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.

Categories: Living Here
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Community Gardens In Cambridge

Community Gardening in CambridgeWinter’s coming to an end and soon it will be time to think about gardening. Perhaps you’ve been dreaming about the vegetables you could grow. Or maybe you hope to fill your home with flowers that don’t come from the store. 

Where Can I Find a Community Garden?

If you live in Cambridge, MA and don’t have a garden plot to call your own – don’ t despair.  Cambridge has thirteen community gardens spread across the city and preference is given to those who don’t have access to land for gardening.  There does seem to be more demand than available plots, however, and a  lottery system is used to assign plots to prospective gardeners.

Community Gardens in Cambridge, Massachusetts

North Cambridge Community Gardens

Whittemore Avenue Garden – Whittemore Ave. & Magoun Street
McMath Park Community Garden – Pemberton Street
Corcoran Park Community Garden – Walden Street

West Cambridge Community Gardens

William G. Maher Park Community Garden – 650 Concord Ave. at Neville Manor
Fresh Pond Reservation / Parkway Garden – Fresh Pond Parkway

Community Garden in the Agassiz Neighborhood

Sacramento Street Community Garden – Sacramento Street

Riverside Community Gardens

Field of Dreams Garden – Elmer and Banks Streets
Green Street Neighborhood Garden – Green and Bay Streets

Cambridgeport Community Gardens

Peggy Hayes Memorial Garden – Watson Street
Emily Garden – Brookline and Emily Streets

Area 4 Community Gardens

Squirrel Brand Community Garden – Broadway and Boardman Street
Moore Street Community Garden – Moore Street

Community Garden in East Cambridge

Costa Lopez Taylor Park Community Garden – Lopez Ave. and Charles Street

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Arlington Neighborhoods – Kelwyn Manor

History of Kelwyn Manor

Kelwyn Manor Arlington MAKelwyn Manor is one of Arlington’s most distinctive neighborhoods.  Kelwyn Manor is sited on land that sits between Lake Street and Spy Pond in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Neighborhood development began in 1938 when the Kelly Coal Company began building the first of 194 houses on the 39 acre former Wyman farm.  The name “Kelwyn” is  a contraction of the two names: “Kelly” and “Wyman”.  Houses in the development originally were priced between $6,000 and $8,000.

The Arlington Historical Commission, in minutes from a 2003 meeting, notes that “the unprecedented scale of this subdivision, and the nearly uniform use of period Colonial Revival style, make Kelwyn Manor unique in Arlington’s emergence as a suburban community.”

Living in Kelwyn Manor

Houses in Kelwyn Manor Arlington MAKelwyn Manor is close to the Minuteman Bike Path, the Capital Theatre, and of course Spy Pond. The neighborhood has a private beach on Spy Pond and a park with playground.  Route 2 is nearby and provides quick and easy access to Boston and Cambridge or to routes 95 and 128.

Voluntary annual dues for membership in the Kelwyn Manor Association are $25 for each member of the household 18 years of age or older.

Kelwyn Manor Real Estate

A waterfront ranch was recently listed for sale in Kelwyn Manor for $599,000.

Information about recent sales in Kelwyn Manor follows and includes date sold, days on market (DOM), asking price, sale price, number of rooms, bedrooms and baths, architectural style, year built, interior size, and lot size.   Included sales info is from sales in the multiple listing service, MLSpin. Waterfront properties are marked with an asterisk (*) in the Style column.


Real Estate Sales in Kelwyn Manor Arlington MA

Recent Real Estate Sales in Kelwyn Manor, Arlington MA


Would you like more information about real estate in Kelwyn Manor and other Arlington, MA neighborhoods?  I’m only a phone call or email away – and I’d love to help!

Categories: Area Info
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New To The Market – Condos in Cambridge and Somerville

It’s that time of year – lots of new inventory and a loooong tour on Wednesday when we see the new listings that the Cambridge Coldwell Banker offices are bringing on the market.

I try to post this on Wednesday but since two of the 15 properties we saw on tour were my own listings I’ve been busy writing ads, designing feature sheets, taking photographs, and, happily – booking appointments.  There’s a lot of activity in the market right now – spring is here!

Harvard Square Two-Bedroom Condo

15 Trowbridge Street Cambridge

15 Trowbridge Street Cambridge

This condo is a charmer!  It’s in a handsome turn-of-the-century building just a hop, skip and a jump from Mass Ave and Harvard Square, and Central Square just down the street.  The condo is on the back side of the building and there’s a good sized backyard. Walk out the front door and you’re in the middle of everything that makes Cambridge such a fun place to live – cafes, pubs, restaurants, libraries, bookstores, and more.  While you’ve got all your public transportation needs covered – take your pick  and walk to the T stop in Harvard Square or Central Square or hop on the bus that runs down Mass Ave – you’ve also got a parking space – a coveted amenity in mid-Cambridge. 

The condo is a wonderful combination of original details like hardwood floors and high ceilings and modern updates.  The bath has undergone a stylish renovation and the stainless steel fridge and gas range in the kitchen are new. The master bedroom is generously sized and holds a king-sized bed – a real bonus in a city condo – and has a walk-in closet.  The second bedroom has two closets, there’s a coat closet in the hall, and additional storage in the basement.

I’m delighted that the weather forecast sounds promising for Sunday.  There’s an open house scheduled for 11:30 to 1 pm on the 15th and I plan to open the kitchen door to the deck and let the breezes in.  Hope to see you there.

15 Trowbridge Street Unit 7, Cambridge, MA 02138 is priced at $419,000. 

Somerville Two-Bedroom Two-Bath Condo

14 Arlington Street Somerville

14 Arlington Street Somerville

This spacious Somerville two-bedroom condo has all the amenities on your wish list – central air conditioning, two baths, two car parking, in-unit laundry and an updated kitchen.  On the top floor of a six-unit mansard on a street lined with historic homes, the building has been thoroughly upgraded and has a contemporary feel inside.  And with the T station just a five minute walk  away and easy access to major highways and to Boston, the location is ideal for commuting.

You can spread out in this condo – the entertaining spaces are open and the master bedroom is large with its own bath  and sliders to a small deck. There’s a second bedroom and a separate office.   The kitchen has new counters, updated cabinets, and stainless steel appliances, and a pantry closet.  Your guests can sit at the counter bar while you’re preparing dinner.  There’s also extra storage in the basement.

Set on a side street just one block from the bustle of Broadway, you can stroll to neighborhood restaurants and stores.  The new Stop and Shop and a variety of award winning restaurants are nearby.  The new development at Assembly Square, set to include an Ikea, is  also close by.

14 Arlington Street Unit 3, Somerville, MA is priced at $299,000 and will be open on Sunday, March 15 from 2 to 3:30.  I look forward to seeing you there!

If you would like more information please email me or call me at 617-504-1737.

Categories: Real Estate Market Info
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Residential Property Tax Rates – 2008 – 2010

Wondering what are the property tax rates in Cambridge and nearby towns?

Property Tax Rates in CambridgeThe 2010 residential property taxes have been announced by most towns. I’ve decided to add them to last year’s post so you can see the rates from 2008 and 2009 as well. 

Tax rates are expressed in dollars per $1,000 of assessed value. In other words, if your Cambridge property, for example, was assessed at $500,000 you would multiply the tax rate of $7.72 by 500 to calculate your property taxes.

2010 Residential Property Tax Rates

Cambridge Residential Property Tax Rate:

  • For 2010: $7.72
  • In 2009: $7.56
  • In 2008: $7.36

Looking for the new real estate tax rates? Cambridge has announced the rates for 2011 real estate taxes.

Arlington Residential Property Tax Rate:

  • For 2010: $12.11
  • In 2009: $11.92
  • In 2008: $11.45

Belmont Residential Property Tax Rate:

  • For 2010: $12.16
  • In 2009: $11.89
  • In 2008: $11.27

Medford Residential Property Tax Rate:

  • For 2009: $10.08
  • In 2008: $9.12  

Somerville Residential Property Tax Rate:

  • For 2010: $12.30
  • In 2009: $11.71
  • In 2008: $10.95

Watertown Residential Property Tax Rate:

  • For 2009: $12.24
  • In 2008: $11.39

Wondering if a town has a residential exemption?  Of the towns listed above three do – Cambridge, Somerville and Watertown.  Read more about the residential exemption in Cambridge, Somerville and Watertown.

Categories: Buyer Info, Living Here

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Do You Have A License For That Cat?

If you live in Belmont or Watertown you had better!  Belmont and Watertown are two of the handful of Massachusetts towns that requires licensing for cats.  Who knew?! 

Dog licenses go back decades – vintage dog licenses  have become quite collectible  – but the licensing of cats is unusual at least in our area.

Cat Licenses In Belmont

Does Your Cat Need A License?In Belmont, the license fee for a spayed or neutered cat is $12 per cat, $9 if the owner is 60 or older.  Proof of spaying or neutering must be presented at time of application.  A license for a cat who has not been spayed or neutered will be $37 or $34 if the owner is 60 or older.   In every case proof of vaccination for rabies must be presented to obtain a cat license. 

The license is good for the calendar year.  The deadline for getting your 2009 cat licenses is March 15th.  Owners who fail to license their cats will be subject to a $25 fine per cat.  Belmont will start issuing tickets for unlicensed cats on March 16th. 

Licensing Your Watertown Cat

Watertown cats cost $10 to license ($5.00 if you’re 60 or older) with an additional fee of $25 if the cat is not spayed or neutered. Proof of rabies vaccination and of spaying or neutering if applicable is required.  Failure to license will subject you to a $25 fine.  The Town Clerk’s Office at the Watertown Town Hall deals with cat and dog licensing.

Categories: Living Here
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Cambridge Neighborhoods – Strawberry Hill

History of  Strawberry Hill in Cambridge

The Strawberry Hill neighborhood of Cambridge, Massachusetts is in the western corner of Cambridge where Cambridge, Belmont and Watertown meet.  Town boundary lines were more fluid in the past than many realize – Strawberry Hill was first part of Watertown, then made a part of the newly incorporated town of Belmont in 1859 and eventually annexed to Cambridge in 1880.

Strawberry Hill Cambridge Public Library Branch on Aberdeen AvenueStrawberry Hill is situated between two of Cambridge’s loveliest spots – Fresh Pond Reservoir to the north and the historic Mount Auburn cemetery on the southern border.  The wide tree-lined boulevard, Aberdeen Avenue, at the edge of the neighborhood, connects these two landmarks.  Aberdeen, lined with two families, is unusually wide because trolley tracks originally ran down its now grassy center.

While much of Strawberry Hill was divided into lots in the mid-1800s, economic downswings slowed development and many of the neighborhood’s houses were not built until the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Many of the houses have generously sized lots and grape arbors, expansive gardens and even chickens can be found in the neighborhood.  Between the main roads that flank the neighborhood – Huron Avenue, Mount Auburn and Belmont Streets – a number of the side streets are one-way which cuts down on traffic.

Strawberry Hill Resources

Haggerty School in Strawberry Hill Cambridge MassachusettsNeighborhood conveniences include the large grocery store, Star Market, and the Cambridge Public Library Collins Library branch. Fresh Pond Reservation has a public golf course, playground, and a 2.25 mile path around the pond.  The Haggerty School for grades K to 6 is on Cushing Street.  Trolleys and buses run on the main routes making the neighborhood very accessible by public transportation even though it is about 1.75 miles to the T at Alewife or two miles to the Harvard Square T stop. Two trolleys serve the neighborhood – the 71 and the 72, and two buses – the the 73 and the 75.

Real Estate In Strawberry Hill

Like other neighborhoods in Cambridge, MA, real estate options for buyers in Strawberry Hill include condos, single family homes and multi-unit properties, primarily two-families with a few three-families in the mix.

Condominiums in Strawberry Hill include inexpensive one- and two-bedrooms in converted brick apartment buildings on Homer Avenue, loft style units in a converted industrial building on Aberdeen Way, and renovated units in multi-families.  Newer townhouse style condominiums are scattered throughout the neighborhood in small associations and the larger development at Fresh Pond Place on Huron Avenue. Sales prices for Strawberry Hill condos in the last few years have ranged from $190,000 for a one-bedroom on Homer Ave in 2008 to $705,000 paid in 2005 for a three-bedroom condo on Huron Avenue with views of Fresh Pond.

Only a handful of single families have sold in Strawberry Hill in the last few years and those that did sold for prices ranging from the mid-$400,000s to $600,000.

Multi-family sales in Strawberry Hill since 2005 have ranged from a three-family in need of major renovation that sold for $360,000 in 2007 to an unrenovated triple-decker with a single family house on one parcel that also sold in 2007 for $1,175,000.

Categories: Area Info
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