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.

Unanticipated Expenses When Buying a House or Condo in Massachusetts

What sort of unanticipated expenses might you encounter when buying a house or condo in Massachusetts?

You’ve been saving for years, you’ve carefully budgeted the money you need to  buy a condo or your first house, you think you have a handle on the costs – and then an unanticipated expense hits you at the last minute. Ouch!  What are some of the miscellaneous costs of buying a house or condominium in Massachusetts?

Insurance for Home Buyers

insuranceInsurance– When you buy a house the bank will require proof – an insurance binder – that you’ve paid for a year’s homeowner’s insurance coverage.  Most likely the bank will set up your monthly mortgage payment to include money towards future insurance payments.  This money is held in escrow by the bank which typically collects money towards your property taxes as well. Even though you’ve just paid for a year’s coverage the bank will also collect several months worth of that monthly escrow amount.

Condominium associations are covered by master insurance.  As a condo unit owner you will be responsible for a portion of that coverage which is typically budgeted and paid for with your condo dues .  If you’re buying a new condo it is not uncommon for you to be required to reimburse the developer for insurance payments he has made in advance. For example, if the developer paid for a full year’s coverage you would be required to pay your unit’s portion of that bill. 

Master insurance for condos typically covers the building “from the studs out” and condo owners are encouraged to get an additional policy to cover the contents and finishes of their unit.  Until recently that coverage was not required as a condition of your mortgage but due to changes in lending guidelines, it is now a requirement to get a mortgage.  The coverage is called HO-6 insurance and lenders and others involved in the home buying process are just getting a handle on what’s required.  Lenders are requiring coverage equal to 20% of the appraised value of your condo and you would then get additional coverage for your possessions, etc.  Your attorney, lender and insurance company can provide guidance.

Title Insurance

Title Insurance is an unexpected expense that buyers often don’t find out about until quite late in the process since it is usually paid for at the closing.  As a buyer you assume all costs incurred by the bank making your loan.   You will pay for title insurance to protect the bank – that’s not optional.  Title insurance coverage to protect you is optional however. 

When I bought my first house I wasn’t spending any money that I absolutely didn’t have to and chose not to get title insurance.  In the years that followed, however, I repeatedly read real estate attorneys’  newspaper columns that advised homeowners “if you had title insurance you would be ok” in response to some question about a problem (or disaster!) they were having with their house.  I’ve made sure to purchase title insurance ever since.  Like much insurance it’s coverage you may never have to use but sure will want to have if some problem comes up – documents that were misfiled, problems with what’s deeded to you and what isn’t – the problems that title insurance covers are varied and unexpected and often come up years down the road when you’re trying to sell your home to move to a new place.  Title insurance will help to address those unexpected problems.

Contribution to Reserves

bringing-moneyIf you’re buying a new condominium in Massachusetts most condominium associations will require you to  contribute two months of condo fees to the condo association’s reserve account.  This means that the new condo association will have a balance in the bank to deal with any issues that come up.

Heating Oil

If the house or condo that you’re buying is heated by oil you’ll be required to reimburse the owner for the oil in the tank.  Shortly before the closing, the seller will get a statement from the oil company that gives the value of the oil in the tank.

Better to know what to expect so the unanticipated expenses when buying a house or condo in Massachusetts don’t trip you up at the last minute.

Categories: Buyer Info

Comments: Please leave a comment. Your opinions welcomed.

Watertown Real Estate Market in May 2009

Watertown MassachusettsBefore we get too far into June let’s take a look at the Watertown real estate market in May 2009.  The spring market is in full swing.  Sales that closed in May reflect properties for which sellers accepted offers in April or perhaps March since real estate sales in Massachusetts typically take six to eight weeks to close. 

Real Estate on the Market in Watertown MA

132 houses were listed for sale in Watertown on May 31, 2009.   The lowest priced property was listed for $199,000, the most expensive house for sale had an asking price of $1,395,000. Average days on market was 106. 

Watertown Real Estate Sales in May 2009

26 residential properties sold (closed) in Watertown in May with an average sales price of $429,122.  That’s an increase in activity of almost 25% over April when 21 sales closed.  The median sales price in May was $408,250. Average days on market was 112.
7 Watertown single family homes sold in May.  The lowest priced single family sale was $360,000.  The most expensive Watertown single family sold in May for$967,500.  The median price was $430,000.  Watertown single family homes sold for an average of 95% of asking price.  Average days on market was 106.
16 Watertown condominiums sold in May. The lowest price paid for a Watertown condo in May was $150,000 and the highest price paid was $512,000.  The median condominium sales price was $371,000.  Condos sold for an average of 97% of the list price.  The average days on market was 131.
3 multi-family properties sold in May for prices from $415,000 to $590,000.  The multi-family houses sold for an average of 97% of the asking price.  The average days on market was 25. 

Total Watertown residential real estate sales volume closed in May was $$11,157,167

 See also:
Watertown Real Estate Market – January 2009
Watertown Real Estate Market – February 2009
Watertown Real Estate Market – March 2009
Watertown Real Estate Market – April 2009




Information about the Watertown Real Estate Market in May 2009 from MLSpin.

Categories: Real Estate Market Info
Comments: Please leave a comment. Your opinions welcomed.

Somerville Real Estate Market in May 2009

Somerville Massachusetts Real EstateHere’s the monthly review of Somerville Real Estate Market Activity – the May 2009 numbers are in. 

Somerville Real Estate Market – Homes for Sale

265 residential properties were on the market in Somerville on May 31, 2009, a slight uptick from one month ago when there were 260 homes for sale in Somerville.  The least expensive home for sale was priced at $115,000, the most expensive had an asking price of $1,600,000.  The average days on market was 110.

May 2009 Somerville Real Estate Sales

40 Somerville houses sold during the month of May with an average sales price of $409,319.  The median sales price was $383,000.  The average days on market for homes sold in Somerville in May was 89.

Five single family homes sold in May for prices ranging from $310,000 to $555,000.  The average sales price was $427,480.  Somerville single family home sold in May for an average of 101% of asking price.  Average days on market was 14. 

26 condominiums sold in May. The least expensive condominium sold for $217,000.  The most expensive condo sold in May for $605,000.  The median condo sales price was $367,038.  The average days on market was 111.  Somerville condos sold in May for an average of 98% of list price.

Nine multi-family property sales closed in May for prices ranging from $350,000 to $650,000. The median sales price in May was $430,000. Multi-families sold for an average of 98% of list price.  Average days on market was 68.

Total Somerville closed residential sales volume in May was $16,372,766.

 See Also:

Somerville  Real Estate Market  – January 2009
Somerville Real Estate Market  – February 2009
Somerville Real Estate Market – March 2009
Somerville Real Estate Market – April

 Somerville Real Estate Market Data for May 2009 comes from MLSpin.

Categories: Real Estate Market Info
Comments: Please leave a comment. Your opinions welcomed.

Follen Street – Cambridge Real Estate, History and Architecture

Follen Street – Cambridge Real Estate, History and Architecture. Follen Street is one of the most charming streets in Cambridge Massachusetts. Tucked behind the Cambridge Common, close to Harvard Square, this one-block street is lined with trees and interesting and attractive homes.  Follen Street is anchored at one end by the Longy School of Music in the former Edwin Abbot mansion built in 1889 and at the other end by the Christian Science Church and the condominiums at 50 Follen Street, the former Puritan Arms Apartments. Follen Street is otherwise a street of single family houses.

Follen Street was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Bainbridge Bunting and Robert Nylander in their volume Old Cambridge in the Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge series describe Follen Street this way:

“… no quieter, more peaceful corner of Cambridge exists; it enjoys a splendid isolation, unity, and sense of neighborhood recalling the 19th century” and point out that  Follen Street was the last Cambridge street to give up its gas streetlamps just before World War II.

History of Follen Street, Cambridge

Part of Follen Street was laid out by Charles Follen in 1836.  Follen was dividing a parcel of land that he owned that had once been part of the Lower Common. The Lower Common encompassed some 63 acres that stretched from Mass Ave to Garden Street and from the Cambridge Common to what is now Linneaen Street.  Follen Street was extended to its present day end at Garden Street in 1848.

Architectural Styles on Follen Street in Cambridge

The houses that line Follen Street encompass an array of architectural styles and construction dates ranging from the 1830s to the 1950s.

  • Greek Revival houses from the 1830s – 29 Follen Street built in 1837, and from the 1840s – 9 Follen Street built in 1844. 
  • Mansard Victorians including an 1862 Mansard built on Waterhouse Street in 1862 and moved to 44 Follen Street in 1923 to accomodate the building of the Christian Science Church. 44 Follen is home to Harvard Law’s Lincoln’s Inn Society
  • Stick Style Victorian at 10 Follen Street 
  • Modernist houses including 22 Follen Street designed by Carleton Richmond in 1951
  • The former Edwin Abbot house at 1 Follen Street, was the first all stone house built in Cambridge, constucted of granite in the Richardson Romanesque style in 1889 and designed by the firm of Longfellow, Alden and Harlow

Follen Street Cambridge Real Estate Sales

 Recent real estate sales on Follen Street:

  • A townhouse built in 1986 sold in 2008 for $1,600,000
  • A 12 room single family built in 1853 sold in 2007 for $2,060,000
  • One-bedroom condos at 50 Follen Street sold in 2006 and 2007 for $369,000 and $330,000

Here are photographs of Follen Street Cambridge:

Follen Street slideshow


Use the following link to search the MLS for real estate for sale on Follen Street and then use the New Search link to expand or change your search criteria:




Check out these great Cambridge streets for more Cambridge real estate and architecture:

Orchard Street Cambridge
Garfield Street Cambridge


Follen Street – Cambridge Real Estate, History and Architecture was written by Elizabeth Bolton, a Cambridge real estate agent at Coldwell Banker on Huron Avenue, Cambridge.

Categories: Area Info
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May 2009 Real Estate Market in Cambridge

Cambridge Real Estate MarketMay was a busy month for real estate closings in Cambridge.  May real estate sales represent properties that, for the most part, went under agreement in April, perhaps March – prime time in the Cambridge real estate market. 

Cambridge Real Estate Inventory

A the end of May  2009  there were 438 residential properties on the market in Cambridge MA, just a slight uptick  from  April when 427 properties were listed for sale at the end of the month. 

The least expensive property was listed for $193,900, the highest priced home for sale was $4,850,000. Average days on market was 102.

Cambridge Real Estate Sales in May 2009

75 residential property sales closed in Cambridge during May.  The average sales price was $457,348.  The median sales price was $385,000.  Average days on market was 87.

5 single family sales closed in May.  Prices ranged from $345,000 to $2,244,000.  Average days on market was 157.  Houses sold for an average of 93% of asking price.

68 condos sold in Cambridge in May. The lowest price paid for a condominium was $190,000.  The most expensive condo sold for $1,035,000.  The median sales price for condos sold in May was $370,000.  Condos sold for an average of 98% of the asking price.  Average days on market was 84.

2 Cambridge multi-family houses sold in May. A Porter Square two-family house sold for $795,000 and an Inman Square six-unit property sold for $1,000,000. 

Total closed residential real estate sales volume in Cambridge in May was $34,301,100.

Information from MLSpin.

  Also see:

Cambridge Real Estate Market in January 2009
Cambridge Real Estate Market in February 2009
Cambridge Real Estate Market in March 2009
Cambridge Real Estate Market in April 2009



Categories: Real Estate Market Info

Comments: Please leave a comment. Your opinions welcomed.

Newport Road Condos – Cambridge Condominiums

Newport Road Condos

Newport Road Condos

The Newport Road condos are popular with Cambridge real estate buyers. These handsome yellow brick buildings occupy the entire block, lining both sides of the street and fronting Mass Avenue on both sides of Newport Road.

Newport Condo Association

The buildings were constucted in 1916 and have the wonderful detail you would expect in fine buildings of that era.  There are 83 units in the association with condos on four floors and some lower level units.  The association is professionally managed.

The addresses for the buildings are 1-8 Newport Road and 1775 and 1783 Mass Avenue.  It’s a location that can’t be beat – in the Agassiz neighborhood just blocks to Porter Square and a stroll to Harvard Square down a lively, store and restaurant lined stretch of Mass Ave.

Typical Features of Newport Road Condos:

  • Most units are 1100+ sq.ft. two-bedroom condos or one-bedroom plus a large study
  • The Mass Ave condos have different floor plans – some are smaller, some have rounded bays
  • Livingroom with fireplace
  • Formal dining room with unusually substantial built-in hutch
  • Oak floors, bay windows, high ceilings, stained glass window
  • Steam heat is included in the condo fee
  • Basement storage and laundry

Parking is on-street though some owners have secured spaces in the underground garage at the end of Newport Road.   The common hallways have been restored and many of the units have undergone recent renovations. Some Newport Road condos have renovated kitchens with dishwashers and some owners have installed in-unit washer and dryer.

Newport Road Condominiums near Porter Square

Newport Road Condominiums near Porter Square

Recent Newport Road Condo Sales:

  • A third floor, two bedroom, one bath condo sold for $475,000 in 2013
  • A first floor two-bedroom, one bath condo sold for $630,000 in 2014



Click on the link above to see if any condos on Newport Road are currently for sale.  You can also search by address – 1775 Mass Avenue or 1783 Massachusetts Avenue to search for Newport Condos that front Mass Ave – or just broaden your search for other Cambridge condos.

And if you’d like some help finding a Cambridge condo give me a call at 617-504-1737 or email me at [email protected]

Liz Bolton, ReMax Destiny, Cambridge.   Info about Newport Road condo sales from MLSpin.

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

Walking Tour of Ball Square Somerville

This Walking Tour of Ball Square Somerville was originally planned for May 12, 2009 as part of Somerville’s Historic Preservation Month.  The tour was rained out and had to be rescheduled.  Truth be told (it wasn’t raining at 10:30 that day so I went in case the tour was taking place) it didn’t seem to be the best day for a tour starting by Tufts since Tufts’ commencement was that day.  The new date is Sunday, June 14, 2009.

Vintage Postcard of the Powderhouse Near Ball Square in Somerville MA

Vintage Postcard of the Powderhouse Near Ball Square in Somerville MA

Walking Tour of Ball Square Somerville

On Sunday June 14th Ed Gordon, President of the New England Chapter of the Victorian Society of America, will lead a tour of the Ball Square and Powderhouse area of Somerville. 

On the From Powder House Pickles to Ball Square Brick Yards walking tour  of historic homes and sites you’ll learn about the history of the neighborhood and of Tufts University, see some of the most handsome multi-families built in the area, get to see the inside of a home or two, and finish with light refreshments at the Field House at Nathan Tufts Park.

Cost is $10 ($8 for members of the VSA).

Sunday, June 14, 2009, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. 

Meet at the Field House at Nathan Tufts Park at the corner of Broadway and College Avenue.  The Field House is at the far end of the park, away from the Powderhouse rotary, and can be accessed on foot from Powderhouse Boulevard.  Somerville parking restrictions aren’t in effect on Sundays.

Hope to see you on the Walking Tour of Ball Square in Somerville!

Categories: Area Events
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What Is the Definition of Broom Clean When Selling Your House or Condo?

The tools to get your house broom clean

When you’re selling your home in Massachusetts the purchase and sale contract usually calls for the house or condo you’re selling to be left in “broom clean condition”

What exactly does that mean?  What is the expectation for the condition the property should be left in?

What should a seller do before leaving their house for the last time?

“Broom clean” means that your property should be emptied of everything and at a minimum swept clean after your belongings have been moved.  If you think the buyers might want that table, or your old yard equipment, or the washing machine you had intended to take with you – ask your agent to find out if the buyers want the items.  The old cans of paint?  Even if they match the colors on your walls the buyers may not be interested and in fact may be upset to be left with them. Don’t leave anything in your house unless you’ve cleared it specifically with the buyers. 

One common exception to the rule are old house parts.  Doors stored in the basement that have been removed from rooms upstairs or old pieces of trim removed in a remodeling for example are usually best left in the house – and many buyers will assume that those items will remain.  It’s not a bad idea to have your agent check with the buyers if you’re unsure.

It’s not a bad idea to go room by room for a final check.  Open up every drawer and cabinet, the washer and dryer, the dishwasher, etc. When my family moved we once left our games in the playroom cabinet and another time a last minute load of laundry was inadvertently left in the dryer.

“Broom clean” does not mean that you have to scrub your house down – but it’s awfully nice if you do.  Your contractual responsibility is to leave the house swept and empty of all possessions. However, many times a seller – who’s often too tired to clean after moving – will have house cleaners in for a last polishing after their move.  It’s a very nice gesture and will be appreciated by your buyers.

Categories: Seller Info

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