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.

Cambridge Real Estate – Weekly New Listings Tour – Cambridge – Arlington – Somerville

Our office tours new listings every Wednesday morning.  This morning it was hard to be enthusiastic – 18 degrees, more snow, fewer parking spaces, and the prospect of putting boots on and off at every property was enough to make me want to stay at home where it was warm.

New Listings Tour

But I love touring new listings and I was happy to see we had 15  properties on the tour.  The actual breakdown was 11 condos3 single families, and 1 multi-family.  Since we’ve been in a period of low inventory and it’s been difficult for buyers to find what they want I was delighted to see plenty of new listings on this tour. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cambridge Real Estate Market Statistics – January 2009

Cambridge MassachusettsThe Cambridge Real Estate Numbers for January 2009:

There were 296 properties on the market in Cambridge on January 31, 2009. The lowest priced property was listed for $199,900, the most expensive for $3,275,000. Average days on market was 141.

24 properties sold (closed) in Cambridge during January with an average sales price of $487,181.  The median sales price was $414,000. Average days on market was 66. Read the rest of this entry »

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Declutter Your House To Get It Sold

Staging your house to sell has become much more important in today’s competitive real estate market. Clearing away clutter is one of the best – and least expensive – things sellers can do to make their home sell for more money in less time.  After you declutter, your house or condo will look larger, more attractive, and much more appealing to home buyers. 
 

You Don’t Sell Your House The Way You Live In It

Messy ClosetWhen I work with sellers to prepare their property for sale we go room to room to identify anything and everything that should be removed.  The goal is to have clear surfaces everywhere you look.  No piles on the nightstand, no tchotchkes on the bureau, the desk a clear expanse.  The miscellanea stacked in a corner that you don’t even see anymore – it’s got to go.  The notes and magnets covering the fridge – not while you’re selling your home. The toiletries arrayed in the bathroom – not acceptable.  We’re aiming to get as close to the model home look as we can.
 
One challenge while living in the house that you’re selling is that buyers are able to peek into your cabinets, your Neat Closetclosets, even your medicine chest.  If it’s built-in it’s acceptable for buyers to take a look inside.  This means that you can’t use those areas to stash your excess stuff.  In fact, it’s almost as important to declutter your closets and cabinets as it is to declutter the rooms.  A crammed closet sends the message that you don’t have enough closets and storage space is an important point on most buyers’ wish lists.  Thin the clothing and clean up the shelves and floors. 

Too Much Of A Good Thing

One of the bonuses of selling real estate in Cambridge and other nearby towns is the opportunity to spend time inside some truly fascinating homes.  Filled with books, fine art, collectibles, and memorabilia, many of the homes we tour are visual feasts.  But though agents and buyers may linger, gazing at the art or collectibles, the details of the house or condo fail to register.  There’s too much to see, too much beauty to absorb.  So don’t be offended when your agent suggests some thinning of the accessories.  Too much is really too much when you’re selling your home.  And I speak from experience as a lifelong collector (some would say packrat) – I live surrounded with the things I love but when it’s time to move I live like a minimalist. 

So where do we put the stuff? 

Decluttering your house before listing it for sale is a great opportunity to start packing or to weed out those possessions you don’t want to move. Some ideas: 
  • Hold a garage sale
  • List items on Craigslist for a price or for free. Freecycle is another option for giveaways
  • Buy some plastic bins and stack the filled bins neatly in the basement or garage
  • Rent a storage space. It’s well worth the relatively modest cost. One of my favorite storage facilities is the U-Haul on Route 16 at the Somerville / Medford line
  • Ruthlessly weed out and bring things to the curb. Curbside trash pickup – what could be easier?

The Reward

Why go to the trouble?  It’s simple – your house will sell for top value if it’s presented at its best.  If your agent isn’t giving you some “tough love” and advising you on how to prepare the house, you’re not getting good service.  From the moment the first buyer’s agent or buyer walks through the door you want to be show ready.  For more tough love for sellers see:

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Cambridge Events – Hasty Pudding Club Woman of the Year Parade

Following a tradition that began in 1951, Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Club has chosen Renee Zellweger as 2009’s Woman of the Year.  Previous recipients of the award include Katherine Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Bette Midler, Jodi Foster, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Scarlett Johansson.

 
The celebration kicks off with a parade through the streets of Cambridge.  Tickets to the ceremony that follows the parade are available for purchase.
 
Here’s a video from the day:

When: Thursday, February 5, 2009 at 2:30
Where: Harvard Square
How Much: No charge for the parade.  Following the parade, the pudding pot presentation ceremony and roast will be held at the New College Theatre, 12 Holyoke Street, Cambridge at 3:15pm.  Tickets for the ceremony are $80 and are available at the box office, 617-495-5205. 
For more information visit http://www.hastypudding.org/  or call (202) 465-1311

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Did You Get Your Cambridge Resident Parking Sticker?

ticket-23Because if you didn’t you might have a parking ticket on your car when you get home tonight.

The deadline for having a 2009 Cambridge resident parking sticker on your car was January 31st and the ticketers will be out in full force today. 

Registration forms to get the new stickers were mailed out back in November but there are always plenty of people who leave it to the last minute.  As the deadline nears, the line wraps through the lobby of the City Hall Annex building  on Broadway at Inman.  Head on over if you’ve yet to get your new sticker – but be prepared to wait in line!

parking-stickers-1One new twist this year – despite the outdated instructions on the sticker – new regulations require the parking sticker to be placed on the lower corner of the windshield on the driver’s side.  Thus ends a long standing tradition of amassing a collection of the annual stickers on your passenger window or back windshield.  Long time residents displayed them as a badge of honor and it was fun to see all of the photographs of Cambridge used on the stickers through the years. 

This year’s sticker has a photo by Israel Ferraz of the clock tower at Cambridge City Hall.  The winning photograph was one of 125 submitted in the 2009 resident parking permit photo contest held by the City.

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What Do I Do With All These Boxes?

Moving boxesCongratulations!  The hardest part of your move into your new home is over. You’ve just unpacked all of the moving boxes.  The rooms are starting to take shape, you can put you hand on most important items, and there’s finally a clear path from room to room.

… Except – what on earth to do with the big stack of flattened moving boxes?  They weren’t inexpensive but the idea of letting them molder in the basement isn’t appealing.  If you want to leave them out for curbside recycling that’s another project since the boxes will need to be cut down into smaller pieces and you can’t put them out until pickup time.

If your new home is in Cambridge – and if you’ve picked up your resident sticker – you can bring the boxes to the Recycling Drop-Off Center on Hampshire Street.  You don’t have to dismantle or cut down the boxes and you can get them out of the house rather than wait for the next pickup.

Another very convenient option is to post in the Free section of craigslist. It’s easiest if you put the packing materials out on the porch or in your driveway or yard and include your address in the post.  Moving supplies such as packing boxes, bubble wrap and peanuts will often be picked up within an hour or two of your post.  Delete the post and bingo – you’re done and you’ve helped out a grateful stranger.  You gotta love craigslist!

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Did My Cambridge House’s Value Really Go Up 16%?

Sold HouseA recent Boston Globe article has our phone ringing. Sellers want to know if it’s true – did Cambridge single family values really increase by 16%?

In short the answer is NO.  Despite the Globe‘s assertion that “In Cambridge, prices increased a remarkable 16 percent over the year”, prices have not increased dramatically. 

It is true that Cambridge has weathered the real estate storm far better than many Massachusetts towns and cities.  Demand for Cambridge single families and condominiums remains strong and inventory low. Cambridge is a destination city – for suburbanites looking to retire to the city, for graduates of local schools hoping to return to Cambridge, for employees of the many companies headquartered in Cambridge, and for all who love this vibrant Massachusetts city.  Cambridge typically weathers market fluctuations better than most Massachusetts towns and cities.

Is the Globe article wrong?  No – the median price of homes sold in Cambridge did increase substantially in 2008.  The median price of the 133 Cambridge single family homes sold in 2007 was $659,000.  In 2008 the median sales price was $755,000.  But what these numbers show is how difficult it is to draw conclusions about real estate values.

To accurately determine changes in the value of real estate requires tracking the same or very similar properties over time.  Instead, when you look at real estate sales from one year to the next you’re seeing what prices were achieved for whatever houses happened to change hands in that period.  Cambridge does not have a lot of cookie cutter housing.  The mix of houses sold can vary in any period.

And the mix did vary between 2007 and 2008.  Of the 133 single families sold in Cambridge in 2007 23% sold for less than $500,000.  In 2008 19% of the single family sales was for less than $500K.  In 2008 37 of the 109 single family house sales was for $1,000,000 or more representing 34% of the market (vs. 30% in 2007) and  30% of those closed for $2.5M or more.  In 2007 less than 25% of the sales over $1m was for $2.5M or more. In short fewer inexpensive (by Cambridge standards!) houses sold in 2008 and more houses were sold (and available for sale) at the upper end of the price range in 2008.

It is difficult – more so than many admit or understand – to make generalizations about changes in house values.  If you want to know the current value of your property the best thing to do is to ask a real estate agent to prepare a comparative market analysis.  A careful review of house sales similar to yours will give the most accurate estimate of the value of your home – and that’s the most important number!  If you would like more information about the value of your house please contact me.

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What? Another Ticket? 10 Common Cambridge Parking Violations

parking-ticketThe new City of Cambridge Traffic and Parking Department booklet has a list of ten common parking violations that don’t require a sign.  So even if you’ve got a current Cambridge parking sticker and you’ve checked the street signs, you’ll get a Cambridge parking ticket for any of these violations:  

  • Blocking a handicapped ramp
  • Parking within ten feet of a fire hydrant
  • Parking in a crosswalk
  • Parking in an intersection
  • Parking on a sidewalk
  • Non-resident parking more than 24 hours without moving the vehicle
  • Parking less than ten feet from a travel lane
  • Commercial vehicle parking overnight
  • Parking over one foot from the curb
  • Parking in the wrong direction

My brother was outraged when he was nicked for the last item on the list.  Hey, that goes over in South Boston but not in Cambridge!

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