Brooklyn Life

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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]

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When you are standing on the elevated platform on the Brooklyn-bound side of the Marcy Avenue stop, you are at about eye-level with the top floor of the four-story buildings that line Broadway. This provides an unusually close view of the cornices, some of which are quite interesting. This one in particular caught our eye because the fact that it is made of wood is so glaringly obvious. This got us thinking about what cornices were made out of over the years. We’re hoping there are some architectural history buffs out there who know something about what cornices were constructed of over different periods. This is of particular interest to us because our house is missing its cornice, so at some point in the near future we’ll want to get a replacement made.

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Red Shadows 4/15/05. Photo by kdunk
On L Train, Drivers Perform Solo [NY Times]
A Hair Stylist Colors His Apartment [NY Times]
Residential Sales [NY Times]
The Accidental Landlord [NY Times]
Bensonhurst: Because It’s There [NY Times]
The Surprise Move [NY Times]
Rowley’s Rowhouse Reno Causing Probs [NY Post]
Book: Renovation War Stories [NY Post]
To Buy or Not To Buy in Summer [NY Post]
Nabe Protests Tillary Street Homeless Plan [NY Daily News]

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Cyclone. Photo by Cornershots
Yassky on Garbage [NY Times]
Bike Lane for Brooklyn [NY Times]
Residential Sales [NY Times]
Ratner Launches Brooklyn Standard [NY Daily News]
Long Island Garden Tours [NY Daily News]
Bridge March Rips B’kln Development [Brooklyn Papers]
How Houses Eat Money [Real Estate Journal]
Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival This Weekend [SOHH]
Capture the Flag in Williamsburg [Gothamist]
Bonnie’s Grill [OTBKB]
Brooklyn’s Vigilante Scooter Justice [Curbed]
New Coffee Shop on Flatbush [Daily Heights]
Price Drop at Greene Scene Condos [Set Speed]

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USA TODAY, June 14, 2005 — Conventional 30-year mortgages fell out of favor last year as home buyers seeking to reduce their monthly payments opted for adjustable-rate and interest-only mortgages. During the second half of 2004, adjustable-rate and interest-only loans accounted for 63% of mortgage originations, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. But while high pants will, hopefully, remain in the back of the closet, fixed-rate mortgages are enjoying a renaissance.

At Wells Fargo, fixed-rate mortgages accounted for nearly half of all mortgages in the first quarter of this year, up from 35% during the fourth quarter of 2004. The reason: Rates for 30-year mortgages are at a 14-month low. Last week, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 5.56%, the lowest since April 1, 2004, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac. The decline has narrowed the difference between long- and short-term mortgage rates. The average rate for a one-year ARM was 4.21% last week, up from 4.14% a year ago, according to Freddie Mac.

Comment: We just locked in a 30-year fixed jumbo last week at 6%. We toyed around with the idea of a hybrid, but we’re planning on staying in our house a long time and decided it was worth it to pay a premium to be able to sleep at night. Only time will tell.

Good Old 30-Year Mortgages Are Back [USA Today]