This isn’t your grandma’s Cambridge. With prices in neighborhoods like Harvard Square so high you might mistake them for Boston’s Back Bay, finding an apartment across the Charles has never been harder. But there is an upside: with the outrageous prices in more traditionally popular neighborhoods, renters can find gems in less saturated areas of the city.
“Everything in Cambridge is super-hot,” says Gail Roberts of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, who has worked in the Cambridge market for over thirty years. “I say that because there’s such limited inventory. We’ve seen more up near North Cambridge, and obviously people like to be near public transportation.”
Cambridge’s Fresh Pond neighborhood, just west of North Cambridge, is blossoming as a popular neighborhood for renters. Proximity to the MBTA at Alewife makes the area even more attractive for professionals who previously would have sought out apartments in Harvard or Central Square. Many flock to new luxury high-rises like Vox on Two and Atmark, which offer attractive amenities and effective incentives.
At Atmark, tenants have poolside cabanas, an indoor-outdoor sky lounge, and a wine bar with billiards at their disposal. They’re also motivated by incentives like a free month’s rent, or over a thousand dollars to cover moving costs. And in a winter as painful as this one, both prospective renters and buyers are thrilled at the benefits of luxury high-rise living, like underground parking and the freedom from shoveling.
“Those of my clients who live in professionally managed buildings with garage parking and a concierge have never been happier,” says Kevin Concannon, of the Steven Cohen Team in Boston.
But in order to find your real estate mecca, prospective renters need to seek out star agents who have connections in the specific neighborhood.
“I really think that you should get in touch with a good agent who specializes in the area that you’re looking at,” says Roberts. “Properties come and go so quickly. You want someone who’s going to be knowledgeable to say ‘Hey, this is where we have to go to try and get this.’ A Boston broker is not going to hear of something that’s coming up in Cambridge as quickly as we are.”
The right agent will pre-qualify the tenant in advance, and have the landlord excited at the prospect of a tenant moving in without vacancy between leases, Concannon adds. “There are still plenty of awesome landlords in Cambridge who keep ‘their rents low and their tenants happy.’ Many of the best listings won’t even make it to the MLS or Craigslist,” he says. “An agent with the best landlord clients and exclusive listings is well worth the fee in the long run.”