You've seen them pop up everywhere, multi family homes and apartment buildings being turned into condos. It has been happening for years in the Boston area, and in towns like Arlington, Medford, Watertown and Somerville. Why? What purpose does conversion serve?
Originally, condo conversion was most prolific in Cambridge MA and Boston. Fracturing buildings into smaller, less expensive units served the transient and budget minded populations of young working people and students. As property values rose over the years, condos spread to more suburban areas like Arlington, Belmont etc., providing the consumer with high quality space for a price far less than the total building purchase. As home ownership itself took hold with a frenzy, apartment dwellers turned condo owners by the thousands as well.
Today, condo conversion meet all of these needs and more. Retirees enjoy the limited space and maintenance afforded by sharing space in a building. People who travel a lot or live in more than one home appreciate that there is 'someone home' even when they are away. Buyers with limited finances can team up to purchase a multi family home together and increase their buying power, while later converting to condos and separate ownership. Busy professionals enjoy sharing the work load of home maintenance or avoiding it all together by buying into a building with a management company.
If you are thinking of purchasing a condo in the Boston Metro West Area, attend our Condo Conversion seminar on November 10th to learn all the secrets to successful condo conversion - for buyers and sellers! A panel of experts will answer all your questions on site.
In addition, take the time to download our Better Buyer or Smarter Seller kits to learn more about the real estate process.
Prepared by Karen Lilley, Principal, Avenue 3 Real Estate
Driving between appointments yesterday, I was listening to NPR when I heard a shocking statistic - to paraphrase - 'this past month, in Massachusetts, there have been the fewest homes sold since 1991'. I don't know if you remember 1991, but I do - this, my friends, is not good news.
I have had the good fortune of selling a condo in Arlington, MA this past week and began to wonder about what determines which properties sell and which do not. Here are some thoughts (and suggestions).
Price - Top of the heap, king of the castle, and hands down winner for reason to be sold. Price as they say in real estate "conquers all objections". Getting to the right price can be difficult, sellers want to hold on to the values of last year or the year before. I know you don't want to hear it, but up to the minute pricing by an agent who knows your market is more critical now than ever.
Know your buyer - Every property has an anticipated profile(s) of buyer. Smaller spaces are not best suited to large families etc.
When you prepare your property for sale, be sure to accentuate the aspects of your home that meet your buyers needs and be sure your marketing speaks to them.
Condition - You have heard this one before, but in a competitive market, condition is critical. Do everything you reasonably can to make your property show well. It does not always entail spending lots of money. Staging will help and don't forget the miracle cures of paint and mulch.
A Good Agent - Pricing correctly, checking your place in the market, constant marketing and closing the sale...priceless. And, best done by a professional.
So, keep your cool, be patient, find a good agent, prepare, price well, and you may well be the next to sell your condo, single family, or multi family home in Arlington, MA!
To learn more about selling well download our Be a Smarter Seller Kit today.
Presented by Karen Lilley, Principal, Avenue 3 Real Estate
According to Wikipedia, Cambridge MA is the fourth most densely populous city in the state of Massachusetts. A quick drive through most neighborhoods will seem to back up this statement as truth. Building are clustered closely together, large 'apartment buildings' are mixed with residential single and multi family homes, colleges, business and municipal use buildings are hardly discrenible in the landscape. Buying a Cambridge MA condo, it would seem, would lead to a rather noisy, congested living situation.
While I cannot speak for everyone, I lived in Cambridge for a few years, not far from Harvard Square, and I was amazed at how quiet it actually was. Despite the dense population, increased in density by the annual migration of the college student, it was incredible how few people I saw on any regular basis. Evening walks felt as though the town was pleasantly 'off season' with only hardy residents in attendance. Morning jogs - rush hour aside - were met with a few dog walkers and other morning athletes. Where were the great numbers who presumable occupied those hundreds of units? I do not know, but there was nothing here akin to the New York sidewalk teeming with humanity that one might expect.
It is a bit of a mystery to me that Cambridge, MA is able to house, educate and employ so many in such a provincial sytle. Make no mistake, the vibrant atmosphere of Cambridge, is not lost, but it seems housed in a gentler atmosphere than one might imagine. Buying a Cambridge condo, no matter what price range, is not guaranteed to place you in the heart of a noisy storm. If you are looking to buy in Cambridge, MA, take the time to peruse like a native... walk the neighborhoods, take the evening stroll or the morning jog and maybe experience the 'tranquil' side of this amazing city.
To see what properties might be available in Cambridge today, visit avenue3re.com.
Click here for more information about the City of Cambridge
Posted by Karen Lilley, Principal, Avenue 3 Real Estate
Which way is the housing market headed? Can Cambridge MA real estate give us any answers?
Looking at the numbers compared to last year, it seems that unlike many areas of the country, Cambridge MA has leveled off or begun to improve depending on your point of view.
In the time period of April to October, single family home sales in Cambridge are up from 64 homes in 2009 to 73 homes in 2010. Looks good... except that the prices are down about 9% from 2009 to 2010, on average. Condominiums sales are about the same, 467 units 2009 and 424 in 2010 with prices down by roughly 9% again. Interestingly, multi family home sales increased in number from 27 in 2009 to 41 in 2010 with a price increase of about 11% on average.
Despite the decrease in average price for the single family and condominium market, the increase and/or sustenance of the shear number of units sold, bodes well. When sufficient numbers of buyers stay in the market, the market has a chance at recovery.
The increase in the number of multi family homes that have sold and the price may mean that the market is working back from the bottom up - looking for more security and stability in the multi family home to begin the march back.
What can we deduce from all of this? The glass half full would tell us that the prices have settled and the market is picking up. Buyers are heeding the call of lower mortgage rates and lower prices and coming back into the market. It seems to be true, the market in general feels as though it may be building ... baby steps...but steps none the less.
Find out more about properties sold in Cambridge MA and many other greater Boston Area cities and towns by signing up with Avenue 3 for Sold Search.
Learn more about the Buying or Selling Process with the Better Buyer Kit or the Smarter Seller Kit from Avenue 3.
Posted by, Karen Lilley, Principal, Avenue 3 Real Estate
Have you been thinking about a move to Arlington, MA for a while but think it's not affordable to you? Well, take another look. If you've been following Arlington MA real estate homes for sale info you'll notice that as of today there are about 18 single family homes currently on the market with an average list price of $377,000. The three bedroom bungalow shown is listed at $369,00 and is located on Arlington Heights (Click here for property details).
A list of 18 homes with an average of 6 rooms and 1.5 baths is a decent amount of properties to choose from considering the low interest rates and the benefits in the quality of lifestyle is at its best in Arlington. If you think you can jump in, take time in making the home yours and staying put for several years, you'll find that your investment in Arlington will be a good one.
Over the years the Arlington has become a restaurant mecca with some of the best lining up and down Massachusetts Ave. The minuteman bike way attracts bikers and walkers from all over and there is plenty of open space to enjoy nature's beauty. Public transportation is abundant and you can easily get around without owning a car. Food shopping, dining out and going to the movies at the Capital Theatre is easily walking distance from most areas of Arlington.
I was thinking about all of this when I walked to Arlington's Great Meadows last week, just one of the town's land conservation areas. Hopping on the bike path and taking the 15 walk from Arlington Heights is pretty amazing especially this time of year. Pretty nice to be able to have a cup of coffee on Mass. Ave or pick-up some needed items at Trader Joe's one minute and walk to the beauty and serenity of the Great Meadows without skipping a beat.
Why not check into your credit, talk to a mortgage consultant and sign-up for daily updates on the Arlington market and think about the possibilities. Let us know if we can help you or answer any of your real estate questions regarding the current market.
So what do you think about the idea of buying a home for a town's attractions and services rather than for the house itself? Or is the house more important to you and the town's offerings secondary. I would really like to hear your thoughts on this.
Become an informed Buyer by downloading our Better Buyer Kit
There’s nothing like the subject of taxes that can rev up a room full of political activists both sides of the aisle.
Question 3, the ballot question regarding the proposed changes to the Massachusetts sales taxes law was the hot topic at a recent gathering of Cambridge residents. Opinions bounced around. The usual grousing about government waste and the need to stimulate economic growth by cutting the sales tax was countermanded by the voices supporting the preservation of the sales tax to support social and municipal services.
One thing lead to another and the conversation eventually swirled into a lively discussion about how the Federal government was going to implement a 4% sales tax on the sale of real estate. What! You say. A sales tax on Cambridge MA real estate. That notion really got the room excited, and not in a good way.
It turns out the story started last spring. It bounced around the Internet before fact and fiction were separated. Emails circulated so vociferously though out the real estate industry that the National Association of Realtors published a “Myth Busters” document on Realtor.org.
This is how it started last April.
An opinion piece in the Spokane, Wash., Spokesman-Review reported that the health care bill contained a provision for a 4.0 percent “sales tax” or “transfer tax” on the sale of a home. That message was quickly circulated coast to coast. The Portland (Ore.) Oregonian wisely had someone do some old-fashioned fact-checking, and they reached a correct conclusion that was published Tuesday, April 27. Six months later, the news recirculated.
This was the real, but not simple, story: “The health bill included a provision that imposes a new 3.8 percent Medicare tax for some high-income households that have “net investment income.” Any revenue collected by the tax is dedicated to the Medicare hospital insurance program. This new tax applies only to households with Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of more than $200,000 for individuals or more than $250,000 for married couples. Since capital gains are included in the definition of net investment income, an additional tax obligation might result from the sale of real property. Even if the AGI limits are met, the new tax would not be applied to capital gains that result from the sale of a home, since the existing home sale capital gains exclusion rule still applies – $250,000 (individual)/$500,000 (couple). So if the gain from the sale of the primary residence is below that amount, then NO Medicare tax will have to be paid on the gain. The new Medicare tax would apply only to a home sale gain realized in excess of the $250K/$500K that pushes the filer’s AGI over the $200K/$250K income limits. “
Everyone at the event did agree that the last thing the real estate market needed was a sales tax that would further impede the recovery that is so badly needed. So, it turned out we did have partisanship on the subject of taxes.
For further information go to FACTCHECK.ORG, and search “3.8% sales tax on real estate.”
For information on home buying and sellling visit Avenue3re.com
Debby Heffernan, Principal
Did you know there are 135 Open Houses planned this weekend in Cambridge?
Attending an Open house provides you a wonderful opportunity if you are just beginning your search. It gives the you a starting point to follow the market in an unfettered manner and the freedom to proceed with your own timetable. Just go at your own pace!
Just a few thoughts on Open Houses for now:
- View properties in the one or two neighborhoods you find appealing.
- Include properties that are over and under your comfort price range. You will get a good sense of neighborhoods and their values. Remember to also look in the basement, garage and for Cambridge condos all common areas.
- Open houses are usually in the 12 - 3 pm time range - good times to check for the natural light and neighborhood activity.
- It is easy to remember what you like about Cambridge Mass homes for sale but it is important to also remember what you do not like.
- Click on the link to view the list of open houses scheduled for this weekend.
Viewing property on the internet is fun but to fully understand the market you need to see property at open houses or with an agent. There's nothing like actually being there!
When you are ready to engage a buyer broker we are here to help, contact us!
Judy Conley, Principal
At a recent Cambridge condo open house, I ran into a buyer from last year along with her husband and newborn twins. They now live by Fresh Pond and have recently starting walking around the Fresh Pond Reservation and enjoying all it offers in natural beauty.
During our home and town tours last year I drove them through the Fresh Pond area. But, at that time they were so preoccupied with buying a piece of Cambridge Mass real estate and following through on their mortgage search they did not pay much attention to the area tour.
That changed last month when their twins were born, they decided to cross the street and take another look at the walking paths right there waiting for them! They are now there on a daily basis and loving the space and freedom the area offers.
Even if don't live right across the street but are a Cambridge resident free parking is available in the lots.
Fresh Pond Reservation is a perfect spot for people who enjoy walking, running, bike riding or just need to relax on a bench. Sometimes we forget about the adundance of gorgeous green space and walking paths we have right under our noses.
When you are out looking at Cambridge homes for sale or Cambridge condos for sale take a look at this local treasure.
Judy Conley, Principal
Thinking of buying or selling real estate? Download our Better Buyer Kit and Smarter Seller Kit for valuable info on the process.
Ahhh, Cambridge, a city much revered for it's academic community, it's beloved Harvard Square and lovely Charles River landscape. It is a romantic image that comes to mind for most of us familiar (and less familiar) with this hallowed ground. However, along with the romance comes the reality of compact housing, and high property values. So, the question is, can you live in Cambridge?
I am here to tell you that it is entirely possible for many due to the omnipresent, and recently increased, market of Cambridge MA Condos for sale. At this moment, there are 301 - yes, 301 - units available ranging in price from $365 to 4 million! Even the pickiest buyer should be able to find something that works for them in that mix. And, let's not forget the side bonus of interest rates in the low to mid 4's, that should help to get you off the couch.
So, tie up the appropriate footwear, grab your beverage of choice, check avenue3re.com for open houses or a local agent, and grab your piece of Cambridge MA real estate this weekend!
Karen Lilley, Principal
Be sure to download our Better Buyer Kit before you go!
Although the mortgage financing crisis is getting less play in the press, it is important to note that the fall out from the crisis is still causing financing issues for many people trying to purchase a home. Although you may have been told by your lender that you are "preapproved" to purchase, the type of property you are buying or the specific loan you are seeking, might cause you to be "unpreapproved" when the time comes to obtain the mortgage.The most sensitive areas are condos and jumbo loans.
Financing Cambridge condos in a new development or a new conversion - especially when vacancies or owner occupancy ratios bother the bank - can be tricky. Be sure to discuss the parameteres with your lender or look for portfolio lenders (those banks who keep the loan 'in house') to be sure you know what the requirements will be. Sometimes, obtaining an adjustable rate mortgage until the association ownership changes to suit the needs of the bank, and then refinancing to a fixed mortgage can be a solution as well.
Restrictions on jumbo loans (loans in excess of the conforming limits set by Fannie Mae) can be a problem as well. Be sure to ask your lender about the jumbo loan criteria and what effect it would have on your ability to remain "preapproved".
Do your homework up front and spare yourself an 11th hour retreat by your lender!
Karen Lilley, Principal
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or Smarter Seller Kit