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Cambridge : Real Estate Advice

  • All155
  • Local Info7
  • Home Buying42
  • Home Selling9
  • Market Conditions6

Activity 106
Tue Apr 14, 2015
James Daniel answered:
Hi Meghan,

That's a great question. There are some other different variables to consider in order to determine what is the best course of action for you.

First, if you put down 20% now will that empty your nest egg? The reason I ask is that suppose once you move into your new home something comes up that needs repairing. Will you have the money to get the work done? If not than it may be better to go with PMI. It might add $100 to your monthly payment but that way you won't be strapped for cash if something happens. Something to be aware of is that banks are supposed to remove PMI automatically once you have reached 22% equity in your home. You will have to pay close attention to that because banks rarely do this without some pushing by the owner,

The other thing to consider is that prices in the in Cambridge are going up. If you wait you will most likely be paying more for a home as well as higher interest rates. If you buy now and put 15% down you can always make extra payments to the principal of your loan without penalty. This way you will have money in case of an emergency and perhaps a little more peace of mind!

Hope this helps.

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Fri Apr 26, 2013
Louis Wolfson answered:
As you know land is not depreciable. and typically and in high rise condo's the towns typically don't give the land a value. Therefore you can depreciate the entire value of the property. That said I would ask your accountant and you can only depreciate it if you rent the unit out as an investment. Remember when you sell you will have recapture. ... more
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Mon Mar 25, 2013
Thomas von Zabern answered:
Hi Mary

Most banks will ask for 5% to 10% down, but first time homebuyer programs exist through Mass Housing that allow you to buy with as little as 3% down. I'd be glad to discuss the details with you if you wish.


Tom von Zabern
RE/MAX Destiny
Cambridge, MA
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Thu Mar 21, 2013
Linda Balliro answered:
Commerial or residential? There isn't much residential - getting you a good number on that would take a little work. Have you looked anything up in the Registry of Deeds?
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Mon May 11, 2015
Linda Balliro answered:
Hello -

this is a great question and I like your aesthetics. The value of the type of windows depends on the type of property. If you live in a condo building, I'd venture to say that wood vs vinyl will not affect the market value of your property. It may affect the desirability, - though but even that may not be significant enough to have an effect on how quickly the condos sell.

Generally speaking, In a classic building that is beautifully restored and whose appeal to buyers is the type of building, vinyl windows would detract from the building's value. This is much more significant in a single family than in condos. The vast majority of condo buyers will not be making an offer or deciding on price based on the type of windows. ( think of yourselves when you purchased). ( although old, damaged, inefficient windows can affect every sale/purchase).

There is an alternative - there are companies who lovingly restore wooden windows, making them comparable in energy efficiency to vinyl windows. is one that has a good reputation. Usually cheaper than replacing windows but can still be a significant cost.

One thing to remember about windows - wooden windows last hundreds of years - vinyl replacement last about 20-25.

So, I'd recommend high quality vinyl replacements, ( they come in colors other than white), or repairing the wooden windows if the cost is about the same.

Good luck. I can offer you a free CMA on the value of the condos in your building if you'd like to get an idea of how much you should be spending on improvements.

all the best,
Linda Balliro, broker
Andrew Mitchell & Co
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Sun Feb 3, 2013
Susan Murie answered:
Hi Murphy Law

East Arlington, which borders Cambridge and is an easy 15/20 minute bus ride to Harvard, is an excellent option for you as it meets all of your criteria. There will also be some good properties to consider in Cambridge. You will get more for your money in Arlington than Cambridge. Both Arlington and Cambridge are among the top markets in the country right now and you can't go wrong parking your investment dollars in either one.

We can discuss this further if you wish and go over the market and buying process in detail.

Susan Murie
Realtor, Certified Buyers Rep
ePlace, Cambridge
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Fri Dec 28, 2012
Katie Malin answered:
Hi Yogiloan--
If you need a Portfolio Loan, (one which the bank does not sell to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac), I may suggest Washington Trust in Burlington-- Matt Chabot has been wonderful helping my clients with these loans.

Burlington Home Loan Center
25 Mall Road, Suite 408
Burlington, MA 01803
Local 781-229-2004

If I can help at all, I live and work in Cambridge! Katie Malin 781 799 5981,
Good luck!
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Sat Feb 2, 2013
Katie Malin answered:
Now is a great time to invest. My family owns many investment properties in Somerville and Cambridge (which I manage), but then decided to branch out into Sales territory. Rents are incredible. I grew up here, went to school in Cambridge, and have never really seen the values go down. The investment is here-- MIT, Harvard, and Lesley aren't going anywhere! More T stops are coming to the areas--please call if I can help - Katie Malin Century 21 Avon (Cambridge)- 781-799-5981 ... more
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Mon Nov 19, 2012
Heath Coker answered:
Sometimes the most rent is not as useful as the best tenant.

(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.) ... more
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Sun Dec 16, 2012
Heath Coker answered:
One way to find out is to post the add at what you think the market rent is.
Don't return any calls.
Run a new add with a higher price.
Compare the number of calls to the first ad results.
At some point you will see a tapering off and that may be a good price point to start interviewing tenants.
Keep in mind that many tenants will try to negotiate the rent down when they are in front of you.

(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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Wed Nov 7, 2012 answered:
Researching condo's and single families:

Start Date: 8/7/2012
End Date: 9/7/2012
8 properties sold

Start Date: 9/7/2012
End Date: 10/7/2012
3 properties sold

Start Date: 10/7/2012
End Date: 11/7/2012
3 properties sold

This is a pretty traditional seasonal cycle you are seeing here. Sales usually dry up the deeper you get into the winter.

Hope that helps!
Massachusetts Premier Buyer Agents
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Wed Mar 27, 2013
Green Home Team answered:
Give me a call. I graduated from BU...BA Journalism.
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Wed Nov 7, 2012
Heath Coker answered:
If you google map the address 167 Lexington, you will see how close it is.
You can also go to street view and see what the walk to Harvard Square looks like.
It appears to be over a mile.

(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. So far: 10 best answers, 83 thumbs up.)
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Wed Feb 20, 2013
Christine Moran Realtor & Notary answered:
You should go to the postlets website it has the property listed there too with contact info
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Fri Nov 2, 2012
Peter Mlaguzi answered:

How are you? The way you are able to identify a property is under agreement or sold if not clearly indicated online is by asking a realtor. Did you have a property in mind? Please feel free to email with mls id or address!

Best regards,

Peter J. Mlaguzi
M&A Real Estate
O:617-588-0087 x701
Follow us on twitter: @MandArealestate
Like us on Fb:
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Wed Feb 20, 2013
John Dean answered:
There may be options for you but it will be difficult with that credit score. Have you started to speak with local banks or a mortgage broker ?
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Fri Nov 15, 2013
Dennis Joseph answered:
Hi Sarah (?),

Thanks for asking such a great question!

Just as with many things in life which have some complexity, if you have someone beside you who has been down the same path before, things become much simpler.

I suggest that one of the more difficult parts in reaching your objective is finding professionals you can trust to handle the details, such as a 'facilitator'.

When you sell your two-family, the 3/5 of the proceeds regarded as your investment profit will be disqualified for use in a 1031 exchange if you 'touch' the money. You can not receive a check in your name at the closing from the 3/5 investment portion of the proceeds and you can not let the money get deposited into an account you control. Money which is to be used for a 1031 Exchange (also called a 'Starker' exchange) must go directly to a facilitator.

You may know this but a facilitator can be an attorney who specializes in 1031 exchanges or, more often, a company specializing in tax-deferred exchanges. Prior to the closing of the sale of your house you must hire a facilitator who will be authorized to receive the investment profit from your house at the closing of your two-family and who later will pay that money towards the purchase of your next property.

A good facilitator is priceless because he or she assists people with the 1031 exchange process all the time. A good facilitator knows how to handle every detail and will make certain you are aware of your responsibilities and time constraints every step of the way.

You are correct about the possible difficulty of finding an appropriate replacement property. Inventory is low and competition for the best properties is stiff. But there are strategies for managing this uncertainty.

In fact, one of the two major exchange types is a 'reverse exchange', in which you buy a replacement property prior to selling your house. However, based on your question, I suspect this may not be the best option for you.

In the more typical 'Forward Exchange', from the time you close the sale of your property you have 45 -calendar- days to -identify- a replacement property. You must then close on the replacement property within 180 *calendar* days of the closing of your current house. These are strict deadlines which can not normally be altered but there are ways of gaining some flexibility for yourself. For example, if you ave having difficulty finding a replacement property you might be able to persuade the buyer of your house to delay the closing of your sale, thus delaying the beginning of your 45- and 180-day time frames.

This may be easier than you think, depending especially on the current condition of your house and your buyer's plans for the house. For more than fifteen years I have specialized in helping multi-family owners deal with every aspect of marketing, selling and transferring their property in a beneficially timely manner, according to the circumstances. Special circumstances are much more common than you may expect. I suspect you would be surprised at some arrangements I have negotiated for my clients. Everyone circumstance is unique.

Starker Exchanges are much less common these days than they were even five or ten years ago. I have participated in a number of exchanges and at your request can recommend the best facilitators in the business as well as assist you in selecting one best suited for your situation.

If you are beginning to form a strategy for the sale of your house—which it seems you are—I suggest that what would help you the most is to sit down with a qualified, experienced real estate professional experienced in multi-family sales who is also knowledgeable and has had experience in the areas of real estate taxes and 1031 exchanges. (Not surprisingly, I have a great recommendation for you!! 8-)

Talking through the process and through various scenarios specific to your situation will help clear things up for you and show you that, however complex the process may now seem, it is eminently manageable.

I hope this information helps and has answered your main questions. Of course I would be pleased to meet with you privately to continue the discussion and assist you in developing a strategy best suited for your situation. No obligation, of course—this is what I do!

RE/MAX Destiny, Cambridge
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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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Sat Jun 2, 2012
Lilia Gouarian answered:
Dear Paola, the price is very rarely negotiable. There is no need for the LL to compromise. The inventory is low, so the answer on your lower offer will be NO. Guaranteed. Unless there is a reason to negotiate. Please call me for a specific question and I'll get you an answer. There are too many people who want to live in Cambridge and not enough inventory. Lilia, 617-901-7413. ... more
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Sat Jun 2, 2012
Mathew Ames answered:
Simply email me :) I'll do all the work.
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