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Market Conditions in Cambridge : Real Estate Advice

  • All157
  • Local Info7
  • Home Buying43
  • Home Selling9
  • Market Conditions6

Activity 14
Wed Oct 15, 2014
Annette Lawrence answered:
Opps, question posted May 2008.

Termites are a part of the environment. Nothing to get excited about.

Termites, just like water intrusion, if left unabated, WILL effect the value of the home.
If structural damage is caused, and the roof line resembles a saddle,. you can start deducting value in $10,000 increments.

Annual treatment, and keeping wood off the roof, eliminated water sources, is the best way to protect your house from a saddle roof. There is no shortage of 1920 constructed frame homes that are still standing proudly here in Florida where termites, sand, torrential rain all combine to make home owning an adventure.

Don't sweat it. Sign up for annual treatment then follow your real passions to celebrate life.
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Sat Jun 1, 2013
BinxCambridge answered:
Don't miss the Open House at 253 Norfolk Street Unit #1-6, Cambridge from Noon to 2 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday). It's a stunning unit in an old chocolate factory.
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Wed Apr 24, 2013
Michael.reynolds answered:
Sat Mar 23, 2013
Lara Gordon Caralis answered:
I recently did some slicing and dicing of data to try to get to the heart of property appreciation in Cambridge & Somerville, since the stats normally seen in the media are overly generalized and don't reveal the magnitude of recent price increases.

As an example, here's some info on last year's average price increase for 1BR/1ba condos in Cambridge without off-street parking:

2012 average price: $327,009 (based on 91 sales)
2011 average price: $306,066 (based on 93 sales)
$20,943 difference = 6.8% increase

I'm attaching a link to my full analysis of the 2012 market.

Now, it's too early to tell what will happen this year, but given the serious lack of inventory and the fact that almost every property on the market is receiving multiple offers, I'd expect these trends to continue this year.
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Thu Mar 21, 2013
Kevin McDermott answered:
Hi Yunus,

I'm a little late to the game answering your question, but I thought I'd do so anyway.

I'm assuming you're talking about residential, not commercial or industrial land.

There are several factors, apart from the obvious physical ones, like location, lot shape, topography, etc., which affect value.

The two biggest factors in the valuation of residential land are how large a property can be built, and how many units are allowed. This is largely governed by the specific zoning of the area where the land is located. An experienced real estate agent can give you a rough idea of what you might be allowed to build, but for an in-depth analysis a real estate attorney is required.

Zoning regulations vary greatly, but simple formulas such as floor area ratio (the size of the building in relation to the size of the lot) and lot area per dwelling unit, are used in all cases to determine size and number of units. Other restrictions are parking spaces, building height, yard dimensions, etc. Larger developments bring in traffic studies, drainage, etc., which can all affect the allowable size/impact of the project.

So, to boil it down, you need to determine lot size and zoning to give a rough idea of what can be built. Find out approximately what the project would cost to build, including carrying costs, legal and architectural,and roughly what the gross sell out would be. Build in a fair profit for the developer- let's say 20%, and then you can get a fair idea of the land value.

Quick example: (not figuring in parking, etc.)

10,000 sq ft lot.
Allowable Floor Area Ratio: 0.75:1
Therefore building size can be 7,500 sq ft.

Lot area per dwelling unit: 1,500 sq ft
Therefore 6 units are allowed

So, we have 6 units for a total of 7,500 sq ft, including hallways and landings, so each unit would be about 1,000 sq ft.

If each unit sold for $500,000, the gross sell out is $3,000,000
Subtracting fees and sales costs of about $200,000 leaves $2,800,000

Allow $1,300,000 for construction, and another $150,000 for architect, legal, bank fees and carrying costs. Now you're down to $1,350,000 to cover land cost and profit.

If the developer wants a pretax profit of $600,000, then the land is worth $750,000, or about $125,000 for each unit that is built.

These numbers would change with higher value units, or higher/lower build costs, but the method remains the same.

I hope this helps!

Kevin McDermott
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Wed Nov 7, 2012
Heath Coker answered:
I think you asked this question a few days ago.
It would seem to more productive for you to choose a local real estate professiional and get some targeted updates on a daily basis.
Targeted updates will be more useful.

(Please note: when you choose an answer as a Best Answer, or at least give a thumbs up, it helps those who answer questions here.)
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Sun Jun 17, 2012
Thomas von Zabern answered:
Hello, an happy Father's Day :-)

170 Gore Street, "The Pavilion" was built in 1986 as condominiums. At the time of its construction, the units were marketed as less expensive alternatives to the three luxury buildings near the river, the Esplanade, River Court and Graves Landing. 170 Gore Street offered decent housing with parking and an outdoor pool at far lower entry cost than did any of the other buildings. In the last 26 years, the area surrounding 170 Gore Street has seen strong growth and appreciation, and East Cambridge has in itself become a destination for many well-funded buyers, seeking a quiet yet urban neighborhood immediately across the river from Boston.

As far as 170 Gore Street itself goes, if I am understanding the question correctly, you are asking if the six units that were offered this year indicate a defect with the building that has people running for cover and looking to unload their property while they are able to do so. There are 116 units at the Pavilion, so six units would represent just over 5% of the overall stock of condos in the building. Three units sold last year, two in 2010 and one earlier this year.

It is not uncommon for a building of this size to undergo cycles in which several units are offered and sell all at the same time. It just happens, often without any rhyme or reason. In addition, if you remember the entry-level positioning of 170 Gore Street in the market, it would stand to reason that among its unit owners, there would be some who bought their units as starter homes, and who are taking advantage of today's low interest rates to trade up. The six units that are listed as active including the three that were freshly placed under agreement, were bought by their owners in 1988, 1994,1995, 1997, 1997 and 2008. These numbers appear to me to be a very random pattern with lots of long term ownership. In my experience, it would be atypical for long term owners to abandon their building over a maintenance or repair issue. Things break in a building and components do need to be serviced or replaced every so often, and it would be my guess that most, perhaps all of these six owners have had to deal with such an issue at some time during their ownership of their condos. That being said, I have not heard any talk in professional circles about any catastrophic structural or system failure at the Pavilion.

You can further protect yourself by making any offer contingent on a home inspection, which will cover the unit and those common areas and system rooms which can be made accessible by the property manager. You also have the right to ask for a complete condominium document package, including not only the master deed and its bylaws of operation, but also budgets and minutes from association meetings one the last 1 or 2 years. These minutes would apprise you of any contemplated major upcoming repairs or maintenance issues.

Currently, three units are listed at the Pavilion, all of them with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. These are priced from $359,000 to $399,900 and finally $519,000. I would point out that the unit at $519,000 is a penthouse with private roof deck and city views. The unit also has some updates made by its owner.

The neighborhood of 170 Gore Street has seen very strong growth in the last few years. Long relegated to second place by areas like Mid Cambridge and Harvard Square, East Cambridge has enjoyed a robust renaissance with neglected houses that come to the market being snapped up in days by eager builders, who transform these tired structures into sparkling gems that will in turn sell to homeowners at prices ranging from the $700,000's to the well over $1,300,000. At this time, I see nothing that would slow down the rate of redevelopment in the area. In fact, I am seeing buyers move to East Cambridge after years of home-ownership in Harvard Square and West Cambridge.

I hope this addresses some of your questions. If there is more that you'd like to discuss, feel fee to e mail or call me at, and 617-354-1143.

I wish you the best in your search!

Tom von Zabern
RE/MAX Destiny
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Thu Dec 30, 2010
William Patterson answered:
Hi J.

Check the Middlesex Registry of Deeds in Cambridge. Or you could email me and I will send you the list.

Bill P
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Thu Jan 29, 2009
David Laven answered:
Hey Funmi, this is a good question. I think Cambridge Highlands is a great place to live. Besides being out of the way a little it offers better prices, less traffic and good schools. I also think this area offers good growth potential as area universities continue to expand. If you are interested in checking out listings from this area please click my web reference or call my cell 617-259-0235 and I will get you set up. Hope this info is helpful.

David Laven
Cambridge RE Expert
"check my web reference to view Cambridge Highland listings"
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Thu Nov 6, 2008
Heather Collins answered:
If you give me the address, I could tell you the assessment. Based on that, we could get a pretty good idea of what its worth. Also whether or not it is subdividable, has wetlands, is level, etc. ... more
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Thu May 8, 2008 answered:
obviously, dm, should be looking at everything including the statistics i gave which were snap shots of the east Cambridge market in the last two years (what his original question asked for ) ... dm seems pretty savvy ... more
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Fri Sep 28, 2007
Sean Waters - Sotheby's Realty answered:
I have an opinion on this one, not necessarily a guideline. First of all, it is good that you see the purchase of a property as a long term investment. Stay away from those interest only loans! Yes, there are many new consruction units on the market, and a buyer could potentially get a good deal. If by chance you could find a fixer-upper, and a really good price to allow you to gain at least $100K, and hopefully more. Then you have to ask yourself is a fixer-upper a dream you have always had? If so, the gratification you can receive from "building" your own home is amazing. I bought a fixer upper, and spent about double the amount I had expected (be prepared for this!). I still have plenty of equity, but just as important is that I was able to build the house the way I wanted. There is nothing quite as satisfying as making your dream home now! Not having to wait when you retire. But there are headaches involved in gutting a home, and basically playing project manager, but the headaches are worth it. You learn so much! ... more
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Tue Jul 24, 2007
Melissa Mancini answered:
Hi Allan,

I agree with most of these theories. #1 Location, #2 Size, and the reason that Feature Amenities/Condition comes in at #3 is because it’s the only element you CAN change about a property. However, I find that this order of importance is much different for first time buyers. This group of buyers may chose a smaller home that has more improvements just for peace of mind sake.

Melissa Mancini, Realtor, CBR, GRI
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Tue Jul 24, 2007
Melissa Mancini answered:
Hi Allan,

The average cost per square foot is:$452, based on Sold listings in the last 90 days. The low would be around $357/sq. ft For homes that are currently pending a sale, they were priced on average $434 sq. foot. And current listings are asking on average $438/sq. you see a trend? Unfortunatley it is a declining one. Best of Luck to you! ... more
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