Cambridge Massachusetts

Now we’re talking about my stomping grounds. I live work and play in Cambridge, I am a Canterbridgian.  The Oakland to your San Fransisco, the Annaheim to your LA, the city of Cambridge lies across the river from Boston, and exists in a different County all together.  And even though the two cities are a mere bridge away, most of the people in Boston I know, never come to Cambridge, because it’s “the other side of the river.”  Their loss.

Not only is Cambridge host of two of the most respected educational institutes in America (MIT and Harvard), but it also boasts one of the most diverse populations in the area.  Accessible by the Red Line and the Green Line, living here gives anyone easy access to the rest of the city, if you ever want to leave.

Shopping, dining, and entertainment can be found in any of the vibrant squares that Cambridge offers.  Most can be found along Massachusetts Avenue (Kendall Sq. Central Sq. Harvard Sq. and Porter Sq), but my personal favorite is a little more off the beaten path.  Inman Square lies on the border of Cambridge and Somerville, and is a can’t miss.  The original home of Legal Seafoods (a Boston staple) still has some of the best restaurants and nightlife in town.

Most of the industry can be found around East Cambridge, including companies such as Biogen, Genzyme, and Novartis. In the past few years, this portion of Cambridge closest to Downtown Boston, has been seeing a revival with numerous high-end high-rises, and luxury condos comming on the market. With the proposed extension of the Green line through Somerville, the area is turning to more of a commuter hub than it was before.

Republicans and pro-lifers need not apply though.  The Peoples Republic of Cambridge is normally considered to lean pretty far left, and that’s by Massachusetts standards.

Home Prices in Boston Cambridge Quincy MA


CNN reported on home prices across the country.  Hold onto your hats people, the bubble has popped, the sky is falling, housing prices fell a whopping …… 1.2% this quarter compared to a year ago. What does that mean?  Not too much because real estate is local. Fortunately, the article is kind enough to break it down by city, and by single family homes and condos.  These numbers were based on the median price of homes.

Cheers go to:

- Salem, Oregon where single family homes (median price $228k) saw a 24.7% increase from the third quarter last year.
- Knoxville, Tennessee where condos (median price $155.7k) saw a 29% increase over last year.
- other notable cheers go out to Seattle/Tacoma/Bellview WA (single family) and Honolulu HI (condos) that had both high median prices and good percentage increases over the last year.

And the Jeers:

- Detroit MI area single family homes ($154.1k median) lost 10.5% of their value  from last year.
- and Sarasota FL area condos ($275.6k median) lost 11% (ouch) of their value.

So where does that put Boston? Unfortunately we’re in the red.  For single family homes Boston / Cambridge / Quincy ($412.3k median) lost 4.3% from last year.  Strangely enough, Boston / Cambridge / Quincy condos  (median $300.8k) are doing a little better, having lost only 1.9% of their value over last year.

Cambridge Condo Conversion - Part 4 - the pictures

The wait is finally over, we got the subcontractors into the property and I got to take my pictures.  Unfortunately, we were only able to get into the second floor unit and the basement, and the second floor is in the best shape out of the three.  So without further ado - the pictures



Enclosed front Porchbedroombathroomkitchen1kitchen2Second BedroomPantryUseless hallwayFuture walkin closet for master bedroomdiningroom into living room

So I didn’t get pictures of the basement, and I forgot the back porch as well.  But the basement’s a basement.

The floors in the living room and dining room are actually beautiful, hopefully we’ll be able to restore them all. They did a pretty good job in the second floor unit (seen above).  I don’t suspect we’re going to try to restore the linoleum though. 

Now I pray that the contractors budget exceeds the bids from the subs.

Cambridge Condo Conversion Chronicle - Part 3

So not too much has really happened this week.  The home inspection went fine, the purchase and sale has been drafted, and reviewed, soon to be signed, the check for the additional deposit has been written, and I’m sitting here waiting to get moving with the property.  So what better to do than…..  BUG MY CONTRACTOR!!!!

I’m sure I’ve already done that enough.  He’s already informed me that I can’t add another three floors or turn it into 6 units thanks to things called “zoning laws.”  But I was figuring that there’s probably enough space to add a half bath in there (take that zoning laws!).  So I made a rough sketch of what the layout is now, and what I’d like for it to look like and sent it to him.  I figured I’d share my architectural talents with my readers as well (note: I have zero architectural talents).

So the top is as it is now (minus the interior front porches). So ideally I’d like to open up the kitchen (with breakfast bar), living room, and dining room,and do away with that middle hallway and the pantry. 

*When we were in the basement the supports were clearly underneath the wall to the left side of the dining room, that’s usually a pretty good indicator that the wall is load bearing, that wall’s not going anywhere.

So if we can take away the hallway and the pantry, I can turn the smaller bedroom into the bigger bedroom, make the full bath a little wider and connect the two bedrooms, and hopefully fit a half bath off the dining room.  My theory is that since we’re already budgeted to redo all the plumbing anyway, as long as we can back it up to the other bath (so the plumbing is all in line) how much more could it actually cost to add a half bath?  Right now I’m assuming that the answer is more tiles, another vanity, another toilet, a little more electrical, and a little more drywall… and another door.. crap, and I need three of everything. 

Oh well, if he says we can’t do it, I think I’m going to ask him to dig a moat around the house… you don’t really see people using moats anymore….

Cambridge Condo Conversion Chronicle - part 2

So we had the inspection yesterday, and the contractor came through, and I had 2.5 good learning experiences. 

Learning experience #1, listing agents read blogs too. HA! Good eye Danny!  ( errr…I meant to write that I’m NOT pumped about this project unless the seller concedes eleventy billion dollars)

Lesson #2  needs to be prefaced…

So the home inspector and the Contractor are scheduled to come around the same time, home inspector gets there first.  And we’re going through the house (that is a fixer upper to begin with) we start in the basement. The systems are on the older side, no big whoop we need to replace those any way, an “antique” brass water main (chlorine + brass = corrosion apparently), whatever..  The contractor shows up while we’re still in the basement, so we start walking around with him. He’s done quick and I go back to the home inspector.  All in all, everything went fine.  The house needs tons of work anyway.  So I leave and start listening to my messages.  One of them is from the contractor saying “Jon… call me when you get this.”  And he sounded pretty… perturbed.  So I start stressing heavily….heavily and call him back multiple times.

Well to make a short story long (sorry about that), he left the message before he even got to the house, and sounded perturbed because he was lost and late.  Lesson #2 be patient and don’t jump to conlcusions.

Lesson #2.5 was the home inspection itself.  It only counts a a half because I’ve done them before, yet it’s always something new.  All in all this one went pretty well.  The place needs a new roof, needs updated electric, needs updated plumbing, needs new heating systems, and all this stuff was expected.  The structure itself is in great shape, good sturdy foundation, no sloping or bowing floors, overall good bones.

Then I get the budget from the contractor.  Its so easy to critize the shoddy work on something like the big dig, but all of the sudden when the bills are comming to you, asking the contractor if the place really needs new plumbing throughout and if we can just repaint the crappy drywall, doesn’t seem so wrong.  So with the failure of the big dig in mind, we’re going to totally gut this place, and do it …(sigh)…the right way. The numbers looked sooo much better doing a shoddy job.  Oh well….

I’m still pumped though, we’re going to be tearing down walls and putting up some new ones, adding central a/c, new roof, new plumbing, new heating system, new electric, new drywall, new kitchens, new baths, new windows, the whole 9 yards.  I’m excited to start getting the pictures up.

Now we just have to get the subcontractors in there and see how close the budget is.