I know we’d all much rather be thinking about fun stuff like the holidays, snow, maybe some time off from work… But in the next couple weeks, home owners might want to take some time to make some strategic tax moves that could lower your 2013 tax burden:

Here are some tips from Forbes.com:

  • Pre-pay your property taxes.
  • Accelerate mortgage payments.
  • Make energy efficient improvements.
  • Finalize your foreclosure sale.
  • Clean out and give away.

The article gives more detail and also explains deductibility of points and PMI, the exclusion on capital gains from home sales, and home office deductions. Read more at Forbes.com…

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It really pains me when I hear people reference “Zestimates®” of their homes. The Zillow algorithm for estimating a home’s market value may be a fun tool to play around with, but it is not an accurate indicator of value in our market.

So how off is it?

To find out, I took a look at a few recent Cambridge and Somerville sales and ran the properties through the Zestimator® to see how the numbers compared. Here are the results:

23 Harvard Street U:2, Somerville (Spring Hill condo)

  • Zestimate® says… $399,651
  • Actual sale price… $460,000 — 15% higher than Zestimate®

17 Tremont Street U:3, Cambridge (Area Four condo)

  • Zestimate® says… $463,581
  • Actual sale price… $538,000 — 16% higher than Zestimate®

48 8Th St, Cambridge (East Cambridge 2-family)

  • Zestimate® says… $529,504
  • Actual sale price… $440,000 — 17% less than Zestimate®

The net? If you really want to know what your home is worth, have a local agent come out to visit and prepare a comparative market analysis — you can read more about how I personally handle pricing in my post on the topic.

Happy New… Taxes!

January 2, 2013

Don’t worry — this has nothing to do with the “fiscal cliff” that we’re all so sick of hearing about… simply a posting of our residential property tax rates for 2013. Numbers reflect rate per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value.

CAMBRIDGE — $8.66 with a residential exemption savings of $1,755.37 (If you own a home in Cambridge, say YEEHAW! because our taxes are low, low, low thanks to our #1 tax payer, MIT, as well as all of the various pharma and tech companies based here.)

Important: if you bought a home in Cambridge last year and haven’t already done so, don’t forget to file your residential exemption application no later than January 20, 2013!

Download Cambridge Residential Exemption Application Form Here.

SOMERVILLE — $13.42 with a residential exemption savings of $1,885.97

Important: if you bought a home in Somerville last year and haven’t already done so, don’t forget to file your residential exemption application no later than April 1, 2013!

Link to Somerville Residential Exemption Application Form Here.

And here’s how Cambridge & Somerville’s taxes compare to other local cities/towns’ 2013 rates:

  • ARLINGTON — $13.61 — no residential exemption available
  • BELMONT — $13.33 — no residential exemption available
  • BOSTON — $13.14 with a residential exemption savings of $1,724.47
  • BROOKLINE — $11.65 with a residential exemption savings of $1,954.2
  • MEDFORD — $12.36 — no residential exemption available
  • WATERTOWN — $14.68 with a 20% residential tax exemption


Lots of frost on the ground this morning, which got me thinking about how much I miss the little woodstove I had in my old apartment. Alas…

For those of you lucky enough to have a fireplace, here’s a great piece recently run in the NYT on chimney cleaning & maintenance — part warning, part informative DIY, part just fun reading — enjoy!

Smoking Out Chimney Problems | NYTimes.com

The NYT recently ran a great piece about what standard homeowners’ hazard/disaster insurance covers and what it doesn’t, and makes a good case for purchasing a separate flood insurance policy, regardless of whether you live in a “high risk” area. Thought it was worth sharing, since these so-called 100-year storms seem to be getting a lot more frequent.

Reconsidering Flood Insurance After Hurricane Sandy | NYTimes.com

If you trust that this guy knows what he’s doing (how could you not), then things are looking good for the country’s housing market. Not that we’ve suffered here, but hopefully the hardest hit parts of the country will see prices rise, and fewer homeowners under water on their mortgages.

Buffett, Brookfield Asset Management | Business Insider

I know it’s June, and we’re all thinking about air conditioning, not heating, but if you’ve got an old boiler (from 1983 or older), it might be worth shifting gears for a bit… Mass Save is currently offering rebates of $1,750 to $4,000 if you switch out your old boiler to a new, more efficient one before July 31, 2012. For more info on this deal and other current rebate programs for homeowners, visit Mass Save’s website.

Mass Save