Brooklyn Life

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Red Hook. Photo by Amani Willett
Green Bldg Custom-Made for Two Families [NY Times]
Urban History To Go: Black, No Sugar [NY Times]
Buyers Are What They Do [NY Times]
Residential Sales [NY Times]
For Bargain Hunters, Game Grows Scarce [NY Times]
Slasher Cripples 11 Cars in Bed Stuy [NY Post]
Weiner: Subway Felonies Up 12 Percent [NY Post]
Buyer’s Remorse [NY Post]
Just Sold [NY Post]
Bike Routes Blasted [NY Daily News]

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June 24, 2005, Associated Press — Sales of new homes in May climbed to the second highest level in history, but the median sales price fell sharply, the government reported Friday. The Commerce Department said that sales of new single-family homes rose by 2.1% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.3 million homes. But the median sales price dropped 6.5% to a median $217,000. The strong new home sales followed a report Thursday that sales of previously owned homes totaled 7.13 million units at an annual rate in May, a slight decline from the record April pace, but still the second fastest sales rate on record for existing homes. The median sales price of existing homes continued rising in April to hit a record of $207,000. Sales fell by a sharp 24.5% in the Northeast to an annual rate of 74,000 units.
New-Home Sales Rise, Median Declines [Wall Street Journal]

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James McElwee, 55, allegedly stabbed his landlord, Felix Shaar, 76, to death with two knives yesterday and then calmly rang the next door neighbor’s doorbell. McElwee had been a tenant at 151 Prospect Avenue for 4 years. According to the Daily News, neighbors described the suspect as a loose cannon, who worked odd hours. They recall him walking on the block, sometimes in a drunken stupor, screaming unintelligibly for no apparent reason. Friends said Shaar was born in Texas and moved to the city about 40 years ago. He was a former taxi driver and is survived by a brother and nephew.
Tenant Killing Landlord Over Keys [WNBC]
B’kln Man Slaughters His Landlord [NY Daily News]

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June 22, 2005, INMAN NEWS — Overall mortgage applications dropped last week, going down 11.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the week before, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly survey. The MBA seasonally adjusted purchase index went down by 9.4 percent. The seasonally adjusted refinance index decreased by 13.2 percent.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 5.63 percent from 5.62 percent one week earlier. The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 5.24 percent from 5.18 percent one week earlier. The average contract interest rate for one-year adjustable-rate mortgages increased to 4.46 percent, compared to 4.38 percent the previous week.

Real Estate Purchases Drop [Inman]

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Red Hook. Photo by Amani Willett
Red Hook Journal: Neighborhood Fixture [NY Times]
City Rent Board Approves Rise [NY Times]
Office Space Hot in 2005 [NY Times]
Booming Local Markets Weigh Heavily [Wall Street Journal]
NYC 13th Costliest City in World [Washington Post]
1 in 4 Subway Swipes Fail [NY Post]
Push for Rezoning in Queens [NY Daily News]
NYC Shameful Parks [NY Daily News]
S. Portland G Train Exit to Open [Set Speed]
Searching Oodles of Classifieds [Corante NY]

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Multiple media outlets have reported that screen stars Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams (with bun in oven) have taken up residency in a brownstone in Brooklyn. According to last week’s US Weekly, the couple have been spotted “sitting on their porch wearing sweatshirts with their hoods up so they can people-watch.” They don’t even have to worry about getting harassed for autographs because everyone “just thinks they’re Brooklyn hipsters.” None of the reports we’ve seen have mentioned which neighborhood Ledger and Williams have settled in. Anyone know?
Ledger, Williams’ Baby on Board [eOnline]

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In a recent report to homebuilders, Fannie Mae said that the probability of housing busts has “risen sharply in certain parts of the country.” Fannie Mae, which along with Freddie Mac, helped finance 43% of all home loans in 2004, raised particular concern about lending standards and the rising tendency of buyers to use variable and interest-only mortgage products. Nearly 24% of sub-prime loans fell into one of those two categories last year. The report also noted that mortgage borrowings rose to an average of 91% of the home value in 2004, up 6% from 85% in 2001. Of course, the report came with the big fat disclaimer that it is impossible to know whether there is a housing “bubble” until after the fact.
Comment: So tell us something we don’t know.
Fannie Sees Higher Risk of Regional Housing Busts [WSJ]