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Buying a Home in Cambridge or Somerville, MA

Charles Cherney

Passionate about teaching after graduating from Harvard, I ultimately found myself drawn into the world of real estate in Cambridge and Somerville...

Passionate about teaching after graduating from Harvard, I ultimately found myself drawn into the world of real estate in Cambridge and Somerville...

Jan 24 5 minutes read

Thinking of buying a home in Cambridge or Somerville, Massachusetts?

The Charles Cherney Team at Compass is here to help you.

Who is Involved

When buying property in Cambridge or Somerville, Massachusetts, you’ll generally work with the following people:

  • A licensed real estate agent – in most cases, one real estate agent represents the Buyer and another represents the Seller.
  • A home inspector - The market here is hot. It is not unusual for a buyer to have a home inspection BEFORE offers are due.
  • A real estate attorney – In Massachusetts,  the Buyer and the Seller each has their own real estate attorney. Generally speaking, the Buyer retains a real estate attorney after their offer is accepted.
  • A lender – Unless it’s truly an all-cash purchase, you’ll need a bank to give you a mortgage. Best to be pre-approved by a local lender. Most all buyers in the Cambridge and Somerville, MA market are able to make at least a 20% down payment.
  • An insurance agent – You'll want to get homeowner's insurance in place by the closing date.

House Hunting

The House Hunting Process

There are two primary ways that you can search for a home in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts:

  1. Online.  The Charles Cherney Team can set up a search for you that is specific to your price range and requirements, and have an email sent to you daily that reports on the new listings that fall within the parameters established for your search. We can also preview properties at your request.

  2. In Person. If you’re planning on visiting Cambridge or Somerville or you already live in the area, you can visit properties in person. We can arrange showings by appointment and also alert you to open houses of interest. We're here to help you. CLICK HERE TO LEARN ABOUT WHAT WE DO FOR YOU AS OUR BUYER CLIENT.

Making an offer

Cash offers free of any contingency are sometimes seen in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. That being said, offers often include one or more of the following contingencies:
Home and pest inspection contingency
Radon contingency
Mortgage contingency
Condominium documents and budget review contingency

In our market, the accepted offer is replaced by the signed purchase and sale agreement - known as the P & S. The P & S is drafted by the seller's attorney and reviewed and approved by the buyer's attorney. Generally speaking, a 5% deposit is made at the signing of the P & S. CLICK HERE for more information on the normal real estate transaction timeline in Cambridge and Somerville, MA. Typical timeline for most transactions from start to finish is 4 to 6 weeks.

In Escrow

We don’t have escrow companies in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Deposits are typically held by a real estate company (usually, the listing agent office) and the lawyers handle the transfer of funds for closing.


The residential property tax rates in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts are low.
• In 2020, the annual tax rate in Cambridge is $5.75 per $1,000 of assessed value. CLICK HERE for more information.
• In 2020, the annual tax rate in Somerville is $10.09 per $1,000 assessed value. CLICK HERE for more information.

Most people buying in Cambridge and Somerville, MA are surprised to learn how reasonable the property taxes are.

Closing Costs

Generally, closing costs here will include:

  • Balance of the Purchase Price – the purchase price less your initial deposit. Usually, the bulk will come from your lender and become your mortgage.
  • Legal Fees – amount varies depending on your real estate attorney. Generally, less than $1,200.
  • Title Insurance – sometimes included in your legal fees. CLICK HERE for more info on title insurance.
  • Mortgage  – Costs associated with the loan vary. Check with your lender. This is likely the single largest additional expense for most buyers. Expect it to be 1+% of the loan amount.
  • Property Tax Adjustment – reimbursement to Seller of property taxes they paid beyond the closing date
  • Adjustments for Fees, etc. – reimbursement to Seller for prepaid fees such as condo fee, etc.

The Real Estate Market

The current real estate market in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts is extremely strong, and you’re more likely to experience a bidding war than find "a deal." Over the last five years, residential properties in Cambridge and Somerville - single families and condominiums and multi-families - have been selling on average for close to or over the asking price and appreciating in value. The average sale price in 2020 in Cambridge is just over $1,430,000, and in Somerville it is just over $1,000,000.

Cambridge, MA:

YearAppreciation over last yearSale-to-List-Price (%)
2020 (through 5.20.20)15%101%

Somerville, MA

YearAppreciation over last yearSale-to-List-Price (%)
2019Less than 1%99`%
2020 (through 5.20.20)10%99%

Every Moment Matters
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Buy the Right Home +
Sell for the Best Price

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