Archive for May, 2010

Wanna Go Potty?

One of the easiest ways you can start going green is by tackling your toilet. (Not literally, but if you want to, go ahead. Whatever floats your boat!) Every time you flush your toilet, you could be using up to 5 gallons of water (or more if your toilet was built before 1994, when dual flush toilets came into voque). If you’re like most people, you tend to flush the toilet after every use, which can waste up to hundreds of gallons per week based on the size of your household. Depending on your budget and purpose, here are some helpful tips:

Picture of a Neorest toilet

Oh, So Sexy!

  • Fix toilet leaks – You may not even know you have a leaky toilet, but if you do you could be wasting 20 gallons of water per day.  To determine if you have a leak, add some food coloring to the tank and wait about 30 minutes.  If the food coloring appears in the bowl, you have a leak. Watch this quick 2 1/2 minute video on eHow.com to learn how to fix a leaky toilet.
  • Don’t use your toilet as a wastebasket – I’m just sayin’.
  • Follow the old mantra – Come on, you know it…”If it’s brown, flush…” blah, blah, blah. I hate the saying myself, but it’s still true.  Just try it.
  • Replace your old toilet – If you’re thinking of putting your home up for sale soon, consider replacing the entire toilet, especially if it was built before 1994. At the very least, consider upgrading to a dual flush, if not one of the newer low-flow ones. You won’t believe the variety of new models and styles available today. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  now has a water-efficiency rating system for water-efficient products called the WaterSense labeling plan.  You can also search for just about any make and model toilet at the WaterSense Product Search page.
  • Replace the flapper – You may have a flapper in the tank that’s already adjustable.  Lengthen it just a bit so it closes earlier, using less water per flush.  You can also buy a new flapper for relatively little out-of-pocket expense.  Home Depot always has a variety in stock.
  • Make your own low-flow toilet – This is my favorite tip.  It’s so simple to do with things you already have around the house.  Check this out:

Now how hard is that?!?!

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

Thinking of Investing in a Cambridge, MA Condo?

External picture of 31 Concord Ave in Cambridge, MA

Cozy Condos in Cambridge

If you’ve been thinking about purchasing a condo in Cambridge, MA as an investment property, now would be a good time to make your move! With the end of the first-time homebuyer tax credit, those who were renting and motivated to purchase have already done so and will be closing between now and July 1st. This will result in more rentals coming on the market over the next couple of months, which is prime rental season for the next influx of college students this fall. College students will most likely be your target tenant, given the preponderance of students and other academics throughout Cambridge. So not only will you want to act fast on purchasing that investment, you’ll want to differentiate yourself, somehow, from the “competition” and make your particular unit the most attractive option available.

Pie chart of Cambridge MA neighborhood rental rates for March thru  May 2010

Cambridge, MA Rent Rates by Neighborhood

Looking at the previous two months rental statistics in Cambridge, the news is encouraging. The average rent compared to the same time last year rose by 10.44% for all of Cambridge (from $2,116 in 2009 to $2,337 in 2010), with some neighborhoods reporting larger gains than others. The two Cambridge neighborhoods with the biggest increases were Cambridgeport with a 65.17% increase in monthly rental amount ($1,750/mo in 2009 to $2,900/mo this year) and East Cambridge with a 17.18% increase ($2,400/mo in 2009 to $2,812.50/mo this year).

Check the chart to the right to see an average neighborhood rental rate for a 1-2 bed condominium with 1 or 2 bathrooms.  As you can see, Kendall Square, East Cambridge, and Cambridgeport are the neighborhoods currently commanding the highest rents, while the most affordable areas remain mid-Cambridge and North Cambridge.  Harvard Square has actually decreased slightly to $1,925/month this year from $2,050/month last year.  Remember, however, these are average prices, and some condos in Harvard Square have recently rented as high as $2,500/month.

Of course, there are other areas in Cambridge that are highly popular, such as Central Square or Inman Square, but they are not always indicated as such in the Multiple Listing Service (my source for this data).  These areas, along with the remainder of Cambridge rentals, are included in the “other” category of the chart.

As you prepare your new condo purchase for rental, you’ll want to somehow differentiate yourself from the other rental units available on the market at that time.  Doing so will definitely help to reduce the average days on market (which most recently was 51.7 days) and get you a paying tenant as soon as possible.  So consider this – a potential tenant, such as a student, will not have a car and may rely heavily on public transit.  So one idea you might consider is to purchase a bicycle and make it part of the rental agreement.  If the tenant agrees and wants to use the bike, you can simply give them the lock combo and off they go.  If they’re not interested, you can always keep the bike parked in the condo basement (most have bicycle storage) and rent it out to other tenants in the building.  This is a great way to “go green” while also being a landlord!

First step, though – find a good condo in a nice neighborhood.  Start by visiting my CyberGreenRealty web site and searching for condos in Cambridge.  If you see anything you like, give me a call and we’ll take a look!

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

6th Annual Arlington MA Spy Pond Trails Day

Engraving of ice cutting on Spy Pond in Arlington MA

Ice Made Arlington Hot!

One of Arlington, MA’s most treasured spots for both residents and visitors alike is Spy Pond, located just south of Mass Ave. and east of Pleasant St. in East Arlington. Spy Pond was originally formed during the last great ice age, about 50,000 years ago, when it was covered by the Wisconsin Glacier. As it melted, between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago, the glacier left a depression in the ground known as a “kettle hole,” which then filled with water and formed the pond we know today.

As part of its rich history, Spy Pond was notable as an ice harvesting spot, supplying ice to the greater Boston area and exporting it as far as India. This prompted the building of the local railroad and an increase of manufacturing in the area, primarily ice-cutting tools. As the area expanded and became known as “West Cambridge,” the pond became a source of potable water for local residents. Eventually West Cambridge was incorporated as Arlington, MA and Spy Pond was officially named.

Today Spy Pond is one of the most relaxing and peaceful places to visit in Arlington. But it needs help to remain so. To that end, this coming Saturday, May 8, 2010, local residents in cooperation with the Appalachian Mountain Club will gather to clean up the shores of Spy Pond. Volunteers are asked to meet along the Route 2 path from 9:00am until 1:00pm. Volunteers will spend time picking up trash, cleaning debris from trails, pruning, planting, and weeding out some of the invasive weeds that have infiltrated the area.

If you want to take part, all you need is some time, gloves, and a few garden tools (rakes, shovels, pruning shears, etc.). If you don’t have any equipment to bring, don’t worry. Everyone is welcome and snacks will be provided (free food always attracts more people, doesn’t it?).

If you’d like more information on how you can help, contact either Elizabeth Karpati at 781.643.4172 (email: ekarpati@juno.com) or Stroker Rogovin at 781.641.2506 (email: stroker@alumni.clarku.edu). You may also visit the Spy Pond Vision 2020 Committee web site at www.arlingtonma.gov/spypond.

Read more about Arlington’s history and get more information on the local area at these web resources:

I hope to see some of you there!  Until next time, Peace!

-TMC