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Karen Nickel
Karen Nickel, M.Arch.
Realtor, Broker & Architect
9053658 MA
Chestnut Hill - Hammond

Meet Karen Nickel, M.Arch

Realtor, Senior Broker & Architect


By the Numbers

  • Over $500M sold in 20+ years.
  • Sells 25+ properties per year.
  • More than 50% of business is from repeat clients and referrals.
  • Top 1% of Boston realtors, with many accolades over the years.


A Broker and an Architect

After working on major international architecture projects for NATO and the US Army Corps of Engineers, turning to real estate was a natural transition for Karen when she decided to move back from Europe to be closer to her family twenty years ago. Since then, she has become a respected fixture among the brokerage community, negotiating over $500 Million in real estate transactions and consistently ranking among the top 1% of Hammond/Coldwell Banker realtors in the Boston area.

Today, she combines her knowledge of architecture, project management, business, and negotiation to the complex and often challenging process of the buying and selling real estate. Her easy way with people and an ability to “get” what her clients are seeking have earned her a long list of satisfied clients, repeat business, and regular referrals, including many first-time home buyers that she has helped enter this competitive market. She also brings a sense of humor to her work that helps make the process more than manageable.

A classically trained architect (M.Arch), Karen understands buildings, can interpret inspection results, and advise on renovation ideas and dreams. She has immediate access to contractors, inspectors, attorneys, and service providers of all types. She’s also a successful real estate investor who often guides clients from experience as they grow their own portfolios.

Karen values transparency and provides her clients with a superior level of service that includes regular communication via email, phone, and text. She serves the communities of Arlington, Brighton, Brookline, Belmont, Cambridge, Jamaica Plain, Newton, Somerville, Waltham, and Watertown and is also a premier agent for the LGBTQ community. She handles all kinds of residential properties, from condominiums to single-family and multi-family homes and multi-family conversions.


A Personal, Straightforward Approach to Real Estate

For Buyers: Not just finding a home but finding the right home.

For Sellers: Getting the most amount of money with the least amount of trouble.

Karen utilizes an analytical approach to appropriately price properties using her structural assessments, local area data, property absorption levels, comparable sales, and investment calculations. This allows her to better negotiate undervalued investments and homes for buyers and maximize returns for sellers.

She’s also at the forefront of digital advertising using Facebook, television ads, 3D videos and floor plans, aerial (drone) photography, and featured listings on websites like,,,,,,, and others.


An Understanding of Greater Boston’s Unique Architecture

Thanks to her architectural training, Karen understands the unique vernacular of Greater Boston’s housing stock, in which each house is special – in appearance, building materials, age, and condition. She scrutinizes each property to identify both immediate opportunities to maximize value as well as long-term maintenance needs and risk mitigation.

As part of each transaction, she consults with her clients on building design and issues, interprets inspection results, and advises on renovation dreams and ideas. She combines these individual property assessments with the latest market intelligence and data analytics to establish pricing benchmarks and competitive offer strategies. This in turn allows her to better negotiate undervalued investments for buyers and maximize returns for sellers.


A Realtor and an Investor

In addition to her work as a realtor, Karen has been a real estate investor for over two decades and maintains a portfolio of Boston-area residential and commercial properties. She manages all aspects of the business including leasing, marketing, design, renovations, and contracting.

Many of her clients are fellow investors seeking to diversify their portfolios. Guided by her own experience and knowledge of the local market, Karen advises them on how to leverage the economic advantages and financial considerations of various property types. This includes working intensively with clients on condominium conversion projects and investment income properties.


Bringing a Global Perspective to a Local Focus

Karen combines her architectural expertise with negotiating skills that she first honed while working for the NATO and the US Army Corps of Engineers in Europe. There she managed major international infrastructure projects during the exciting years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Having negotiated multi-million-dollar contracts with foreign governments, diplomats, and generals, Karen knows how to find accord among buyers and sellers in the residential housing market.

And she has stories to tell (especially about foreign generals).

Did You Happen to Know That Karen . . .

  • Has moved over 15 times on 3 continents. Once lost a cat in a moving box but later found it again (a little hungry).


  • Is a native of Maryland. She’s eaten raw things straight out of the Chesapeake.
  • Holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Planning and Economic Development from the U of Maryland.
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the U of Utah. She even received the Best Thesis award for designing a freshwater aquarium.


  • Climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (Coca Cola route).
  • Once walked through a minefield in Albania.
  • Has skied Black Diamonds trails on two continents. She once ran into a tree.


  • At one point, had three Corgis.
  • Was a triathlete in her 30s. She’s no longer in her 30s.


  • Was born in Washington, D.C. to parents who worked for NSA. They fixed everything.
  • Has a nice wine collection and has been known to share.
  • Is passionate about building furniture and furnishings out of reclaimed lumber and anything else she finds that she can cut or saw.


  • Lives in a single-family house that’s always under renovation.
  • Is torn between the Patriots and the Steelers.
  • Cherishes family, friends, and all the good stuff that comes with it.


Give Karen a call or send her a text or email to discuss buying or selling real estate.

Mobile(617) 943-0922
Office(617) 731-4644

See Karen's resume.

Connect with Karen on LinkedIn.


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