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.

READ – Cambridge Bumper Sticker

I love bumper stickers! If I wasn’t a real estate agent my temptation would be to cover my car with them – if only to cover up the scars and nicks on my bumper that result from the game of bumper cars that’s played on Cambridge streets.  But bumper stickers are good for more than camouflage – they allow us to put a bit of our selves out there for all to see, to take a stance, make a proclamation.

In Cambridge the messages proclaimed on bumpers are varied and fascinating.  While I’m out on Cambridge real estate tours or just out taking photographs (my new pursuit launched in an effort to spice up these pages) I can’t help but snap pictures of some of the bumper stickers I come across. So began the Bumper Sticker Seen Around Cambridge collection.

READ bumper sticker spotted in Cambridgeport

READ bumper sticker spotted in Cambridgeport

Reading happens to be one of my lifelong loves so I was tickled to spot this bumper sticker.  Actually do you call these bumper stickers?  These oval stickers, often with inscrutable acronyms, are a subset of sorts of traditional bumperstickers.

Like my last featured Don’t Litter bumpersticker this “READ” bumpersticker isn’t quite what it appears – or rather more than it appears.  I chuckled when I noticed that it was on the truck of a painter with the last name Read.  It was fun – and good marketing – since weeks later I still remembered his name despite my inability to remember names on most occasions.

And in the marvelous, serendipitous way of the internet I was able to find Nicholas Read’s painting website online.  As luck would have it he does oil portraits of houses – and pets too.  His website is really worth checking out – his work is beautiful and has a fun local angle as well.  Read showcases some of his paintings of Cambridge and Somerville houses on his site.  It’s a tough call – when I save up my money – do I get a painting of my house or of Champ my cat?

Categories: Everything Else
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My Offer Was Accepted – What Happens Next?

Congratulations!  Your offer on a home was accepted and you’re probably wondering what happens next. 

Things to Do When Your Offer on a Home is Accepted

Things to Do When Your Offer on a Home is Accepted

Perhaps you’ve been searching for real estate for weeks, maybe months. Finally you’ve found the perfect house or condo, decided to make the leap, written an offer, perhaps gone through a round or two of negotiations, and finally come to terms – the seller said yes.  The offer to purchase was signed, you’re on your way.  Now you’ve got several things to take care of right off.

In Massachusetts, the home buying process has two main stepsthe initial offer and the purchase and sale contract.  The purchase and sale contract is typically scheduled to be signed about ten to fourteen days after the date of your offer. During that period you’ll need to:

  • Schedule an inspection and get back to the seller with concerns if any.  The deadline for your inspection response will be in your offer.  It’s typically about one week after the date of your offer on the home.
  • Engage a real estate attorney to represent you during your purchase. Massachusetts is a state where almost all buyers and sellers work with an attorney during the home buying or selling process. Your attorney and the seller’s attorney will work to draft the purchase and sales contract which is a more fully fleshed out agreement between you and the seller. 
  • Apply for mortgage financing.  Your offer will spell out the deadline for filing a mortgage application, usually no later than the purchase and sale date.  Nowadays the banks are not processing applications as quickly as they have in the past so it is a very good idea to get this process started sooner rather than later.
  • When you sign the purchase and sale agreement you’ll need to provide an additional deposit – typically enough to equal 5% of the purchase price of the home you’re buying.

There’s a lot to do in the first couple of weeks after you’ve found your dream home.  Once these hectic days are past you’ll have less to do – or more time to pack I guess!



Elizabeth Bolton is a real estate agent in Cambridge Massachusetts and author of My Offer Was Accepted – What Happens Next?

Categories: Buyer Info

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Cambridge’s Own Flatiron Building – Cambridge Condos on Brattle Street

Cambridge Version of the Flatiron Building - Condos on Brattle Street

Cambridge Version of the Flatiron Building - Condos on Brattle Street

Yes – Cambridge does have its very own version of the Flatiron Building – the Birches Condominiums at the intersection of Brattle Street and Mount Auburn Street in West Cambridge.  It’s a brick building that you can’t help but notice as you drive towards it with Belmont and Watertown at your back. 

The building comes to a narrow point and gradually flares out as you move up Brattle or Mount Auburn towards Harvard Square – resulting in a triangular building – a brick and mortar thin slice of pie reminiscent of New York’s famed Flatiron Building.

The address of the Birches Condos is 246 – 250 Brattle Street, Cambridge MA 02138.  The adjacent building, at 240 – 244 Brattle Street, is the Larches Condominiums.

History of The Birches Condos at 246-250 Brattle Street Cambridge

The buildings at 240 – 250 Brattle Street were designed by architect Roscoe B. Whitten.  240 – 244 Brattle, The Larches, was built in 1923 as The Larch Apartments.  The Birches Apartments at 246 – 250 Brattle Street was built in 1924.  Garage bays were added several years later behind 240-244 Brattle so many of the condos at the Larches have a garage parking space.

Roscoe Whitten designed several other distinctive buildings in Cambridge including one of the beautiful early 1900s brick buildings that overlook the Charles River at 987-989 Memorial Drive.

Features of the Condos at 240-250 Brattle Street Cambridge

The condos at the Birches and the Larches are exceptionally handsome with gracious layouts, original charm and fine details including china closets and wainscoting in the dining room, glass fronted cabinets in kitchens that retain the originals (many have been renovated over the years), and an abundance of oversized windows.

The views from the multitude of windows are a big part of the appeal of these condos. The condominiums are floor-through units with views over Brattle Street and over Mount Auburn. From the Brattle Street side the condos overlook the beautiful houses of the Larchwood neighborhood. On the other side, spreads out leafy views of the 175 acre Mount Auburn Cemetery, America’s first garden cemetery and a National Historic Landmark.

Real Estate Sales at 240-250 Brattle Street Condos

Each of the condos that sold in the last few years at the Birches and the Larches had six rooms, two bedrooms, and one bath.  The condos were of varying sizes. Recent sales include:

  • A 1st floor, 1200 sq.ft. condo with a garage space sold for $520,500 in 2006
  • A 1st floor, 848 sq.ft. condo sold for $384,900 in 2006
  • A 2nd floor, 1152 sq.ft. condo with a garage parking space sold for $505,000 in 2008
  • A 1st floor, 1185 sq.ft. condominum sold for $465,000 in 2009

Would you like to live in your very own Flatiron Building condo?  You can use the link below to check for availability at the Birches or the Larches.  If no condos are listed for sale you can expand your search terms to look at all Cambridge real estate and more.


Categories: Property Info
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Somerville Neighborhoods – Teele Square Somerville

Teele Square  Somerville is a city of neighborhoods – or more precisely a city with many squares.  Teele Square is one of the most popular – a walkable neighborhood, with stores, cafes, and a variety of housing options and the Red Line T less than 10 minutes away by foot in Davis Square.

Broadway and Curtis Street in Teele Square Somerville MA. Tufts is just up the hill.

Broadway and Curtis Street in Teele Square Somerville MA. Tufts is just up the hill.

History of Teele Square

In the late 1800s Somerville experienced a period of rapid growth and development.  Improvements in transportation helped speed development. West Somerville, largely undeveloped farm land in the mid-1800s, was opened up for development in 1871 when a horse-drawn street car line was extended to the area and the rail line opened in Davis Square.  In 1889 electric streetcars began serving West Somerville. 

A building boom was underway as more than half of Somerville’s houses were constructed in the twenty years between 1890 and 1910.  The fields and orchards that once filled the western section of Somerville are hard for us to envision now, accustomed as we are to the densely built neighborhoods that were established some 100 years ago.

Teele Square became a commercial center in the early 1900s.  Commercial buildings were built in the square as well as churches and a school at the Broadway and Holland Street intersection.

Teele Square Today

Today shops, cafes and restaurants line Broadway from the Foodmaster supermarket at the Somerville line at Route 16 to the intersection with Holland Street in the  heart of Teele Square.  There’s also a good assortment of establishments that serve basic needs as opposed to trendy giftshops – a bank, a laundromat, a barbershop, an auto repair shop, a used furniture and junktique shop, a package store, etc. Tufts University is nearby – just a straight shot up Curtis Street from Broadway. Each morning a steady stream of pedestrians heads down Broadway and Holland Street to jump on the Red Line subway in Davis Square.  Neighborhood favorites include:

  • Teele Square Cafe at 1153 Broadway
  • Amelia’s Kitchen at 1137 Broadway
  • Sabur Restaurant at 212 Holland Street
  • Holland Street Cafe at 237 Holland Street
  • PJ Ryan’s at 239 Holland Stree
  • Rudy’s Cafe 248 Holland Street

Teele Square Real Estate

Somerville real estate buyers have a wide variety of housing options in Teele Square.  There are more multi-unit buildings than single family homes in the neighborhood.  Many of the turn-of-the-century two-families and triple-deckers have been converted to condos.  There are also several recently built condominium developments – at 55 Endicott Street, on Weston Avenue, at 1188 Broadway, and another at Waterhouse and Broadway.

In the last couple of years the handful of single family homes that have sold in Teele Square sold for prices between $460,000 and $793,000.  More than 60 condos sold in the same period for prices from $234,500  to $865,000.  The average sale price for Teele Square condominiums was $409,325 with an average per square foot price of $358.  Eight multi-familes sold – six two-families and three triple deckers.  Teele Square multi-unit properties sold for an average sale price of $625,400.



Check out some Teele Square photographs of local businesses and homes:

Have questions about Teele Square or other Somerville neighborhoods?  Contact me – I can help!

Categories: Area Info
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Decoding Massachusetts License Plates

Decoding Massachusetts License Plates  Here’s a bit of mindless fun that just might come in handy someday – if only to keep the kids (of any age!) occupied during road trips.

This license plate sign for a Cambridgeport insurance agency is a long time favorite of mine.

This license plate sign for a Cambridgeport insurance agency is a long time favorite of mine.

One of the other real estate agents in my office turned me on to this trick.  We had both always been under the impression that the police were reading those little sticker tags on license plates to determine if a car had an expired registration.  There’s actually a better way – a method to the madness of the seemingly random string of digits and letters on Massachusetts license plates.

It turns out that the last digit on your automobile license plate – wherever it falls in the six character string – corresponds with the month that your registration expires.  Granted you may be off track because you reregistered late one year but this works for the original registration month which I think is typically your birthday month.

Here’s an example – If your license plate reads “F98 HEV” your registration expires in August – the 8th month – and the upper left corner of your plate will say “AUG”.

Or your plate might read “JK3 M92” – you have a plate that expires in February– and sure enough there’ll be “FEB” in the upper left corner of your license plates.

It doesn’t matter where in the string the number falls – just that it’s the last number.  There could be just one number followed by five letters (theoretically – I really don’t know the meaning, if any, of the letters) and that one number – which is both the first number and the last – would match the month.

Once you start checking on this as you drive or walk down the street it’s hard to stop.  Trust me – it’s not easy to do while you’re at the wheel unless you’re stuck in traffic.  But it does become almost irresistible. Anywhere there are cars you can play the game.

A few caveats – the system seems to have been put in place with the launch of the license plates with red lettering.  The old green plates that are being nursed along by their owners don’t follow this pattern.  Neither do vanity plates or the highly coveted low number license plates.

A hole in my understanding of the code is the method used for November and December birthdays.  I’m still assuming that registrations typically correspond with your birthday month. The code works for the first through tenth months – January through October. October license plates have a zero as the last digit.

But what about November and December?  My “research” reminded me that all commercial plates expire in December. I have a vague memory of learning this one year when I went to the registry in December for some reason (I’m a January myself) and the long lines were all commercial registration renewals.  The commercial plates all have “DEC” in the upper left corner but no corresponding number pattern that I’ve discerned.  And for the life of me I couldn’t find any “NOV” plates.  I’m still looking.

If you have a November or December birthday and can fill me in let me know.  Until then I’ll keep looking.


Decoding Massachusetts license plates is my hobby.  My work – and my passion – is selling real estate in Cambridge and nearby.  Let me know if I can help.

Categories: Everything Else

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The Saltbox Architectural Style – Houses in Cambridge and Arlington

The Saltbox – Architectural Styles in Cambridge.  The saltbox is a quintessentially New England house style.   Usually formed when a lean-to was added to a one-and-a-half or two-story house, the saltbox features a short high roof on the front of the house and a pitched roof that slopes to a one-story height at the back of the house.  Saltboxes usually have a large central chimney.  The name comes from the house’s resemblance to the early American wood box with a hinged sloped lid that was used to store salt.  The style dates from the 1600s through the early 1800s and remains popular today.   Reproduction saltbox houses – and surviving originals – can be found all over New England.

A Cambridge Saltbox - the Cooper-Frost-Austin House

A Cambridge Saltbox - the Cooper-Frost-Austin House

Saltbox Houses in Cambridge and Arlington

Though one would imagine the saltbox was a common style at one point in Cambridge’s history the only early example I am aware of in Cambridge is the Cooper-Frost-Austin House on Linnaean Street.  This is the oldest house in Cambridge with the earliest part of the home dating from 1681.  The house is now owned by Historic New England (formerly SPNEA, the Society for Preservation of New England Antiquities) and will next be open to the public on August 9, 2009 from noon to 4 pm.

With its prominent location and the spacious (by city standards!) side yard, the Cooper-Frost-Austin house provides a very visible example of the saltbox style.  The trademark sloping roofline is best viewed from the corner of Agassiz and Linnaean Streets.

The Jefferson Cutter house in Arlington is a saltbox. See the side view in the slide show below.

The Jefferson Cutter house in Arlington is a saltbox. To see the saltbox side take a look at the slide show below.

In an even more prominent location, the  Jefferson Cutter  house in Arlington Center provides another unimpeded view of a saltbox’s distinctive roof line. On Mass Ave and across from the bikepath entrance on Route 60, the house, built about 1830, was moved it’s current location in 1989. It is now home to the Cyrus E. Dallin Art Musuem.  Dallin was a sculptor who lived in Arlington from 1900 until his death in 1944.  The location of the Jefferson Cutter house, set back in Whittemore Park, provides views of all sides of this saltbox style house.  It is possible to easily view the back of the house where you’ll see that the back facade looks very much like a Cape.


Do you know of any local saltboxes – old or new?  Let me know if you do.

Categories: Everything Else
Comments: Please leave a comment. Your opinions welcomed.

Cambridge One-Bedroom Condos – Cambridge Condominiums

Cambridge real estate buyers looking for one-bedroom condos in Cambridge MA have a variety of options in terms of size and style and a broad range of prices.  Let’s take a look at what you get for the money when you’re looking for a one-bedroom condo in Cambridge Massachusetts.

Cambridge One-Bedroom Condo Styles

One bedroom condos in Cambridge can be found in buildings like this.

One bedroom condos in Cambridge can be found in buildings like this one.

Only eight of the 95 one-bedroom condos currently on the market are in two to three-unit buildings – the oddly named style “2/3 family” that often puzzles buyers.  Most two-families or triple-deckers have apartments or condominiums with at least two bedrooms.   Because of those floorplans more often than not Cambridge one-bedroom condos are found in larger buildings. 

While some Cambridge one-bedroom condos are in buildings with two to six units, most one-bedrooms will be in larger associations.  Many will be in the classic brick buildings built around Cambridge from about 1900 to 1940.  These buildings have hardwood floors, some have fireplaces, and are often – though not always – walk-ups without elevators.  Some will be renovated, others will have retained most of the original charming details.

Other one-bedroom condos are available in modern buildings in Cambridge built in the 1980s or in the last few years.  These are often luxury condos – many have concierges, pools, exercise facilities and garage parking.

Prices for One-Bedroom Condos in Cambridge

The 95 condos that are currently on the market in Cambridge range in price from

  • $215,500 for a 412 sq.ft. three-room condo in a 25 unit 1920s building in North Cambridge
  • to a 960 sq.ft three-room condo in a recently built luxury building in East Cambridge for $629,500

The average asking price for one-bedroom condos listed for sale is $369,877.  The median price is $349,900.

The average price per square foot for one-bedroom condominiums on the market in Cambridge is $495.  Price per square foot ranged from $271 to $752.

Recent Sales of One-Bedroom Cambridge Condos

62 one-bedroom condos sold in Cambridge in the last six months.

  • Lowest price paid: $187,000 for a lower level 525 sf.ft condo in Mid-Cambridge 
  • Highest price paid: $660,ooo for a 1330 sq. ft. condo at the Esplanade, a luxury building on the Charles River
  • Average sale price: $328,402
  • Average price per square foot: $477
  • Average days on market: 99 

Click on the button below to search for one bedroom condominiums in Cambridge. Don’t find what you want? You’ll be able to fine tune or change your search criteria or select other towns to search.  You’ve got access to all the properties currently for sale on a long list of Massachusetts towns and cities.


And here’s the rundown on Two-Bedroom Condos in Cambridge


Information about Cambridge one-bedroom condos is from MLSpin.

Categories: Property Info
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Front Entry Benches – House Parts We Love

Massachusetts house with benches flanking the front entry

Massachusetts house with benches flanking the front entry

One of my very favorite house features are the built-in benches you sometimes see flanking a house’s front entrance.  When I lived in New Haven Connecticut I used to walk each evening through the very beautiful neighborhood where I was renting.  Many of the large, handsome homes (they were gorgeous – I have two photo albums of the houses I passed on my walk. Some people have photos of friends, family or vacations – me? I have photos of my favorite houses.) had these benches outside the front door.  I’ve found some in Cambridge but, unlike New Haven, Cambridge isn’t a hotbed of front entry benches.

The photo above is actually of a house in Newton Massachusetts that I took while attending the Newton House Tour recently.  Newton is filled with absolutely lovely houses – so I took lots of pictures of course!

More House Parts We Love:

House Numbers Don’t Have to be Boring

Decorative Metal Doorknobs

Cutout Shutters Add Instant Charm

Arlington Porches with Curved Balusters


As a busy Cambridge real estate agent I get to see a lot of houses.  I’ve taken to carrying my camera with me so when I spot a beautiful stained glass window, a rose covered arbor, a handsome set of granite steps – I snap a photo.  Check back often as I continue to share my favorite house parts.  And if you’ve got house parts you love – tell us about them!

Categories: Everything Else

Comments: Please leave a comment. Your opinions welcomed.

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