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.

Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage – First Steps in Buying a Home

A pre-approval is your first step in obtaining a mortgage

A pre-approval is your first step in obtaining a mortgage

If you’re hoping to buy a house or condo in Cambridge or nearby this spring you’ll want to get pre-approved for a mortgage as one of your first steps in the homebuying adventure.

Nowadays, sellers expect to see a pre-approval with an offer – and ideally one from a known, reputable lender with a track record of closing loans.  Real estate is moving very quickly in Cambridge this spring so you really need to get your pre-approval ready in advance.  Talking to a lender and getting a good idea of what you can afford and what your payments are likely to be will help you to focus on looking at properties that you know you can afford.

When you’re getting ready to buy real estate you need to get your financial ducks in a row.  Gone are the days of “no-doc” loans that didn’t require you to document your finances.  Nowadays lenders need to thoroughly document your finances before they will lend the large sums of money needed to buy real estate in today’s market.

Courtesy of Kevin Greeley, the absolute top notch NE Moves loan officer, here’s what your lender will need when you are ready to get pre-approved for a mortgage:

What Do I Need to Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval?

Income and Employment Information:

  •  Last 2 years of W-2’s (if self-employed, 2 year’s complete and signed 1040 tax returns).
  •  Current year-to-date paystub (covering last 30 days)
  •  Complete addresses and phone numbers of employers for the past 2 years.

Liquid Assets Info (checking, savings, and/or investment accounts used for the purchase of property):

  • Complete addresses and account numbers of checking, savings, and/or investment accounts. 
  • 2 months of statements and/or passbook.
  •  Verification of the source of any large deposits in statements provided.
  •  If receiving gift funds, fully executed Gift Letter. (see loan officer for details)


  • If separated/divorced: copy of separation/divorce decree and/or child support agreement.
  • If resident alien: copy of both sides of Resident Alien card.
  • If relocation or new position, copy of Offer Letter and relocation benefits, if applicable.

I can’t say enough about working with Kevin Greeley to get a mortgage.  We have been so fortunate to work with him over these crazy years in the mortgage market.  He is very thorough, anticipates problems and solves them before they become an issue, he personally dots all the Is and crosses all the Ts along the way, he is a master of all of the loan products and scenarios that come up in lending here, and he has a marvelous manner that will put you at ease in what can be a stressful situation.  Repeatedly, attorneys and agents comment on his ability to get a loan closed when other lenders are floundering.

You don’t have to be buying your house or condo with Coldwell Banker to get a loan from NE Moves Mortgage with Kevin’s help.  If you’re shopping for a mortgage or need to get pre-approved I encourage you to call Kevin at 781-929-4147, email him at [email protected]  or contact him online at his mortgage website.

Categories: Buyer Info
Comments: Please leave a comment. Your opinions welcomed.

Kendall Square in Boston Globe Magazine

Friendly Toast in Kendall Square

Friendly Toast in Kendall Square

It’s always good to see city squares getting their just due.  Today Kendall Square was featured as the cover story in the Boston Globe Magazine.

It’s a great article about a number of the newish places that have opened in the square.  Happily, the retail and restaurant infrastructure is finally catching up with all the workers and residents who fill Kendall Square.

I visited one Kendall Square restaurant not too long ago – The Friendly Toast.  The restaurant / diner opened in Kendall in 2009 (I’m a little slow on the uptake) and is wildly popular – especially for weekend brunch.  The decor is wall-to-wall vintage kitsch – all I could think when I saw it was “Wow – I could open a restaurant and have a place to put all my stuff.”

I love the display pictured at right – it’s not a Barbie – it’s a full-size mannequin at the Friendly Toast. It makes a hugely valuable point that people who have the I-can’t-be-bothered-with-cash mindset are missing – credit costs all of us and threatens to put many smaller retailers out of business. There just isn’t enough meat on the bone to survive after Visa and Mastercharge take their sizable cut.  In case you can’t read the sign on the mannequin – the Friendly Toast is paying a whopping $5500 per month on credit card fees.  In self defense they installed a no-fee ATM for customers.


The Friendly Toast is at One Kendall Square (don’t you love that kind of address?! – It’s near the Kendall Square Theater, by the intersection of Hampshire and Broadway), Cambridge MA 02139.

Categories: Living Here
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The Whole Hub Catalogue

The Whole Hub Catalogue - Cambridge and Boston in 1973

The Whole Hub Catalogue - Boston and Cambridge in 1973

I scored this great find at the Christ Church Thrift Store this afternoon.  The Whole Hub Catalogue was published in 1973.  It’s a take-off on the Whole Earth Catalog put out by BU students.  When I was little my parents’ copy of The Last Whole Earth Catalog was one of my favorite reads.  I had to have this book.

The Whole Hub Catalogue is very much a product of its times with sections that include the Draft and Women’s Lib /Men’s Lib. It’s also a snapshot in time – with the radio stations, newspapers, and lots of lots of shops, restaurants and bars that could be found in Boston and Cambridge in 1973.  Sadly – many, perhaps most, are no longer.

Flipping through the book has reignited my plan for a page on Centers and Squares to document Cambridge Stores and More of Yore (that’s my working title!).  I’m going to be putting together a list of old favorites that once were in Cambridge but are no longer with us.  I’ve got my favorites – Dazzle, Reading International, the Wursthaus, and the Cambridge Country Store come to mind –  and I’m going back further than that based on my Dad’s recollections of growing up in Cambridge 70+ years ago.

I’m hoping the page becomes a collaborative effort and encourage you to reply with a comment about favorites you want to add to the list.  Any and all recollections will be enthusiastically welcomed as we build the list.


The Christ Church Thrift Store is in Harvard Square at 17 Farwell Place. Hours from September to June are Tuesday and Thursday from 10 to 4 and Saturday 11:30 to 2:30. Check it out!

Categories: Living Here
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What’s On Your Real Estate Wish List?

What's On Your Real Estate Wish List?

What's On Your Real Estate Wish List?

If you’re hoping to buy real estate in Cambridge or nearby this spring, you’re probably coming up with a wish list.  You may not get everything on your list but it is a helpful starting point in the real estate hunt.

What’s on your real estate wish list?

Everyone’s list will be different but here are some things to think about:

Location – Probably the most important.  Cast too wide a net and it’s a difficult process.  Narrow your focus too much, too specifically, and you may get frustrated and fail to find your new home.  Decide on several towns and / or neighborhoods that appeal and you’ll be able to stay on top of the new possibilities. 

Style – House or condo?  If you’re looking at condos, is a big building too big or a two to three-unit too small?  Which era of building appeals – older, classic buildings or new construction?  Do you want a townhouse or a flat?  A ranch, Colonial, Cape or split level? Top floor, first floor or a condo in between?

Size – How big a place do you want?  Often, you have to get out and look at some options before you get a feel for square footage and what feel right.  Don’t be too quick to decide without seeing  a place that it won’t work because the square footage is too low. Much can depend layout and for houses in particular you’ll want to take the square feet numbers with a grain of salt.  It’s usually easier to decide on the must-have number of rooms and bedrooms you want or need.  Even then, a room that’s not included in the official bedroom count might suit your needs.

Level of renovation– Most of our housing stock in the Cambridge area  is older.  Some places have been updated – many older places are transformed into luxurious, modern spaces.  Others don’t have the newest, flashiest of fixtures and appliances but are very nice as is.  You’ll find condos and houses that could use some attention to outdated features and others that have some definite projects that are must-dos.  What’s your comfort level condition-wise?  “Needs work” typically goes well beyond painting and buffing.  How much is too much?

Outside space– Is it important to you to have outdoor space?  Private space or is common space ok?  Do you need pet or play space? Is a big yard too much of a good thing for your busy schedule?

Parking – Is a parking space – or two – important to you?  Opting only for garage parking will further limit the options.  In some neighborhoods and locations it’s easier to park on the street than in others.

Public Transportation – Will you be taking public transportation to work? Even if you drive, many buyers want to have easy access to public transit.  And what’s your definition of public transportation?  Does it have to be a subway stop or will a nearby bus stop suit your needs?

Do you have or want pets?  If you’re looking at condos make sure you check for what’s allowed – some will restrict by number or by size and many places won’t allow pets at all.  Even houses get scrutinized in terms of pet friendliness – often it seems we’re buying a place because it works for our pets as much as ourselves.

Particular features – Hardwood floors, in-unit laundry, air conditioning, a dishwasher, a gas stove – what are the must-haves or really hope-to-haves on your list?

Price– Let’s not forget price.  You’ll want to be pre-approved  before you head out on the real estate hunt so you can focus on places you’ll be able to buy.

Now that you’re armed with your real estate wish list it’s time to head out on the hunt.  If I can be of help with your real estate search please give me a call at 617-504-1737 or email me at [email protected].  I’d love to help!

Liz Bolton, ReMax Destiny

Categories: Buyer Info
Comments: Please leave a comment. Your opinions welcomed.

House Moving in Belmont

The Boston Globe had a great article today about a house moving in Belmont on Saturday.

The Thomas Clark House, circa 1760, was built by the Clarks, a prominent family in early Belmont history.  Sadly, the house had been bought by a developer who wanted to tear it down.  After a public outcry, funds were raised to move the house.

Until yesterday, the Thomas Clark House could be found at 59 Common Street in Belmont, MA.  Now it’s sitting – temporarily – near the high school on Concord Avenue until its fate is determined.

Here are more photos of the house on its Facebook page.  It’s a good thing when a Colonial-era house gets a Facebook page!

And here’s a time-lapsed photo video of the move:


Categories: Everything Else
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10 Francis Street Somerville – Single Family House for Sale

10 Francis St Somerville MA

10 Francis St Somerville MA

10 Francis Street in Somerville is a four bedroom house on Somerville’s Spring Hill above Porter Square.  It’s one of my favorite properties I’ve sold and it’s ready for new owners.

When I look for houses one of the most important criteria for me is charm – it’s a know-it-when-you-see-it quality and it’s in limited supply in the real estate search most days.  10 Francis Street has charm to spare.  High ceilings, maple and oak floors, lovely bullseye moldings, an amazing, beautifully trimmed archway, bay windows, a beautiful staircase to the third floor, stained glass – lots of wonderful details, sun streaming in the windows – it all adds up to something that gives that internal “click” that makes me fall in love with a place.

The house was lovingly maintained but not updated by long term owners.  The current owners have made important upgrades – replaced the furnace, updated the electric to 200 amps, rewired ceiling fixtures, and added some IKEA modular kitchen storage units.  New owners will probably opt to redo the floors, paint, etc.  There’s one full bath on the second floor and a functioning 1/4 bath in the cellar.

The yard is fully enclosed and there’s room to garden out back.  The sellers have planted a couple of fruit trees, blueberry bushes, raspberry bushes (that yielded many pints last year), and more.  Parking is on street with a resident permit.

10 Francis Street is walkable to Porter Square, Davis Square, and the bike path. 

10 Francis Street, Somerville MA is coming on the market for $469,000.  Showings begin on Wednesday, February, 23, 2012.  Call Liz Bolton at Coldwell Banker (that’s me!) at 617-504-1737 for more information or to schedule a visit.  I can also be reached via email at [email protected].

Categories: Property Info
Comments: Please leave a comment. Your opinions welcomed.

150 Hampshire Street Cambridge MA

150 Hampshire Street in Cambridge MA is a handsome loft-style complex featuring six unique units.  Originally, the site contained an ice house built in the 1870s.  The property was gutted and transformed into six townhouse / lofts in 2006.  With a brick and stucco exterior and an inner brick courtyard, the complex is architecturally interesting and an attractive addition to the streetscape.

150 Hampshire Street Cambridge MA 02139

150 Hampshire Street Cambridge MA 02139

150 Hampshire Street is close to Inman Square with its myriad of restaurants and an easy walk to either Central Square or Kendall Square, both with Red Line subway stops.

150 Hampshire Street Cambridge MA Condos Feature

  • Two and three bedroom condos
  • 882 -1383 sq.ft.
  • Multi-level layouts
  • Cherry, granite, and stainless steel kitchens
  • Hardwood floors
  • Central air conditioning
  • Parking

Condo Sales at 150 Hampshire St Cambridge

The units at 150 Hampshire Street originally sold in 2006 – 2007 for $375,000 to $524,000.   The first resales of units in the complex were listed for sale in January 2012: a 1069 sq.ft. two bedroom condo with1.5 baths was listed for $445,000, and a 1023 sq.ft. two bedroom unit with two baths was priced at $450,000.  Both condos went under agreement almost immediately.

If there is an available unit at 150 Hampshire Street in Cambridge it will appear below.  Click on the small photo for additional info and more photographs.

Categories: Property Info
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Octagon House in Templeton MA

I was on another antiquing jaunt recently when I came across this wonderful octagon house in Templeton MA on the “scenic tour” leg of my trip (I was lost).

Octagon House in Templeton MA - T.T. Greenwood-Orre House

Octagon House in Templeton MA - T.T. Greenwood-Orre House

This three-story octagon-plus-cupola is on Patriots Road at the corner of Cottage Lane.  It’s a fabulous example of the octagonal style.  While it looks like it needs some TLC it appears to have its original siding and decorative quoins.

The Octagon Inventory website page for Massachusetts has more info and photos – including an amazing photograph of the house’s staircase.  The house was built in 1855 and is known as the T.T. Greenwood-Orre house. 

Turns out there’s another octagon house nearby on Cottage Lane in Templeton that I missed.

Here are a couple more posts about octagon houses in Centers and Squares’ neck of the woods:

Octagon Houses in Stoneham – Read more about the octagonal style of architecture and see photos of  Stoneham’s three octagons

Octagonal House in Medford – who knew there was an Octagon in Medford?  It’s a little hard to spot but I did one day and snapped this photo.

Categories: Everything Else
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