2013 was a tough year for home buyers in Cambridge and Somerville, with very limited inventory, and a lot of potential buyers competing from those properties that were available. But if you were out there shopping, and were one of the lucky ones to win a bidding war, here’s what you could have bought…

With a budget of $300k…

Well, there wasn’t much out there at this price point, but 35 condos did sell in Cambridge this year for less than or up to $300k. The lowest sale price was $182k for a 288 SF studio at 9 Mullins Court in East Cambridge. Small to be sure, but renovated and a second-floor unit, which is rare at this price point — most of the lower-end of our inventory is “garden level” (aka, basement). For example, here’s a 2BR 692 SF garden-level condo at 269 Harvard St near Central Square, which sold for $299k.

269 Harvard -- $300k

In Somerville, there were 61 condos listed this year that have sold for up to $300k. Excluding one affordable-housing unit, the lowest price sale was $170k for a 350 SF 1BR condo in East Somerville, WITH a parking spot! At the top of the range, three condos sold for $300k on the nose, including a top-floor, 790 SF 1BR, under-the-eaves unit at 42 Cedar Street, just a couple blocks from Porter.

42 Cedar Street -- $300k

Moving up to $500k…

At this price point, 2013 condo buyers were solidly in the price range for a new or nicely renovated 1 – 2BR condo in either Cambridge or Somerville. For example, coming in at an even $500k, one happy Cambridge buyer scored a 1 BR/1.5 ba loft with 927 SF at NorthPoint. Garage parking included.

NorthPoint -- $500k

62 Central Street, Unit 2 in Somerville also sold for $500k on the nose. For that price, buyers got three bedrooms, two full baths and 1257 SF of living area in a nicely renovated unit on Spring Hill. No parking with this one.

62 Central Street -- $500k

And for $700k…

You can now comfortably afford a renovated two or even three bedroom condo in most Cambridgeville locations. For example, check out this new construction, 3 BR/2 ba, 1609 SF condo with one garage spot at 141-3 Harvey Street in North Cambridge, which sold for a cool $699k.

141 Harvey -- $700k

Our Somerville example is a great 3 BR/2.5 ba penthouse unit with 1447 SF on two levels at 80 Webster in Union Square, which came in right at $700k. It sort of has parking — in this building you have to rent a parking spot in the garage next door, but rates are reasonable at $125/month.

80 Webster -- $700k

And if you have a million dollars…

You’re now entering the realm of river views and/or really nice amenities. Here’s an example of what one buyer bought for $1M in Cambridge: a 4 BR/2 ba, 1885 SF condo on the Charles at 985 Memorial Drive. No parking but it did come with a fireplace, if that’s any consolation.

985 Mem Dr -- $1M

And over in Davis Square, just shy of a million, this 1938 SF, 3 BR/2 ba Wallace Street “urban chalet” sold for $950k. It offered high-end finishes and all kinds of bells and whistles including TWO parking spaces.

45 Wallace St -- $950k

Money is no object, you say?

Well, Somerville condo prices maxed out at $1,125,000 this year (only three condos sold for more than $1M), but there was still room to go up in Cambridge, where condo prices topped out just under $4M. And the distinction of being the most expensive condo sold in Cambridge this year goes to a 2170 SF, 2 BR/2 ba penthouse in the heart of Harvard Square, just above the soon-to-be-gone Upstairs on the Square restaurant. And here’s that buyer’s $3,974,000 view:

93 WInthrop -- $4M

Happy shopping — ho, ho, ho!

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Am feeling nostalgic as I think back to when I began my real estate career in November of 2009 — look at the inventory we had back then! Ah, the good old days…

Cambridge Housing Inventory
YTD, November 21, 2009 through 2013

Cambridge Housing Inventory

Somerville Housing Inventory
YTD, November 21, 2009 through 2013

Somerville Housing Inventory

On a fairly regular basis I find myself competing for a listing with a “discount” broker — one whose fee is 4% or so, as compared to the 5% that I, and most full-service agents in this market, charge.

What I share with my potential clients is that in my experience, these discount brokers simply take a few photos of the property (often REALLY bad ones), post the listing to MLS, throw a lockbox on the door so that they don’t have to actually accompany any showings and call it a day. And generally people understand that this is not an ideal strategy for selling their home, and appreciate the marketing and sales services that I offer. However, there have been a few times that I have lost listings to agents who offered a cut-rate fee and/or “bought” the listing by coming in with a ridiculously high list price instead of one that will realistically move the property in a reasonable timeframe.

So I was thrilled to discover Justin Rollo’s recent Boston.com piece looking at the financial implications of listing a property with a discount broker compared to a full-service agent. The results are no surprise to me, but the data is very interesting. I encourage anyone thinking of selling their home to read Justin’s article, “Is a Discount Broker Really a Bargain.”

Is a discount broker really a bargain?

I get this question a lot when people look at the bidding wars and rising prices going on in our market. I thought this CNBC interview by Boston developer Joe Fallon (of Fan Pier fame) offers a good answer to that question.

CNBC_JoeFallon

I’m excited to present my gorgeous new listing in my favorite Cambridge neighborhood — my very own Area Four :) I’ll be hosting several open houses this weekend, so if you’re in the area (or would like to be!) please come on by…

275 Washington Street, Cambridge

Open house schedule:

  • Friday, August 16, 5:30 – 7 pm
  • Saturday, August 17, 12 – 1 pm
  • Sunday, August 18, 12 – 1 pm

275 Washington Street

Download MLS listing for 275 Washington Street.

Download floorplans for 275 Washington Street.

This 2-bed, 2-bath condo has it all! Unit features an open-layout living area, large bedrooms and amenities galore—modern kitchen and baths, in-unit laundry, central air, spacious closets plus additional basement storage, garage parking and private outdoor space with an herb garden. Located between Central Square & Kendall/MIT on a one-way side street, yet in the heart of the city’s best restaurants, cafes, bakeries, several grocery stores, live music venues, the theater and more! Pet friendly, 100% owner-occupied association.

Year built/converted: 1837/2007

Bedrooms: 2

Bathrooms: 2

Living area: 1015 SF +/- per master deed

Parking: 1 garage space

Condo fee: $150/month

2013 Taxes: $2,002 with residential exemption

Listed at $525,000

Check out all the great places in this vibrant neighborhood!

Area Four — a coffee shop / bakery / bar / small plates restaurant at 500 Tech Square
Bondir — a new “farm-house style” restaurant offering sustainable American cuisine
Café Luna — great bistro café with outdoor dining in the summer
Central Bottle Wine & Provisions — come try out their Thursday night wine bar and other events
Central Square Theater — featuring two critically acclaimed theater companies
Craigie on Main — named by The Globe as one of “The 10 Most Influential Restaurants” of the decade
Cuchi Cuchi — small-plate dishes in a retro-glam space with lots of signature cocktails
Flour Bakery & Café — eat in or take out to enjoy “the simple pleasures” of their delicious baked goods
Harvest Co-Op — a community-owned market offering a variety of natural foods and products
Toscanini’s The New York Times calls this “the world’s best ice cream”
VIM Fitness Spa & Salon — an Aveda-concept gym with classes and personal training
Whole Foods Market — natural and organic grocery store

And check out my Pinterest board for a visual tour of Area Four.

Area Four Pinterest

This is one of those places that you just have to visit to appreciate. On paper, the $429k list price on this less-than-renovated 1BR condo seems a bit steep. But if you see this place in person, you’ll likely agree that this place is something special. The layout is great, the rooms are well-proportioned, and the overall feel is just great, with great features like a central woodburning fireplace and an exposed brick wall in the bedroom. Unusually in this market, offers are being reviewed as they come in, so if you want to see it, let me know asap — my guess is it will be under agreement by Sunday…

5 Irving Terrace, Unit 2A — 1 BR/1 bath, 1363* SF, listed at $429,000
*Note that the listed square footage is not all living space — it includes basement storage area.

Download MLS listing for 5 Irving Terrace, Unit 2A here.

5 Irving Terrace, Unit 2A, Cambridge
5 Irving Terrace, Unit 2A, Cambridge 5 Irving Terrace, Unit 2A, Cambridge

Listed by Jim Myers of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

Always happy to divide-and-conquer, my colleague Natasha Burger and I recently divvied up the job of running 3-year home price comparisons for Cambridge & Somerville. I previously published my Cambridge stats, and am now adding Natasha’s Somerville data to the mix. I’m sure you’ll agree the market here in Cambridgeville is hot!

Somerville Condos  1BR/1ba, without parking
2011 YTD – 5 units sold – average price: $254,900
2012 YTD – 8 units sold – average price: $288,875
2013 YTD – 14 units sold – average price: $289,489
3-Year Change: Up 14%

Somerville Condos — 2BR/1ba, with 1 parking space
2011 YTD – 36 units sold – average price: $320,238
2012 YTD – 25 units sold – average price: $364,084
2013 YTD – 20 units sold – average price: $365,920
3-Year Change: Up 14%

Somerville Condos — 3BR/1.5+ba, with 1+ parking space(s)
2011 YTD – 34 units sold – average price: $594,951
2012 YTD – 47 units sold – average price: $533,663
2013 YTD – 37 units sold – average price: $603,634
3-Year Change: Up 1%

Somerville Single-family — up to 2000 square feet
2011 YTD – 22 units sold – average price: $382,125
2012 YTD – 36 units sold – average price: $426,656
2013 YTD – 27 units sold – average price: $484,185
3-Year Change: Up 27%

Somerville Single-family — larger than 2000 square feet
2011 YTD – 9 units sold – average price: $585,500
2012 YTD – 13 units sold – average price: $707,385
2013 YTD – 9 units sold – average price: $728,333
3-Year Change: Up 24%

Somerville 2-Family properties
2011 YTD – 46 units sold – average price: $495,582
2012 YTD – 46 units sold – average price: $539,378
2013 YTD – 48 units sold – average price: $671,705
3-Year Change: Up 36%

Somerville 3-Family properties
2011 YTD – 25 units sold – average price: $587,641
2012 YTD – 27 units sold – average price: $585,974
2013 YTD – 15 units sold – average price: $732,400
3-Year Change: Up 25%