Friday, January 30, 2009

Home of the Day: 7481 Amboy Road


Photo from SIREN Flickr Pool

The great people over at Homes & Land sent me a listing for this beautiful single-family Victorian home at 7481 Amboy Road, priced at $1,000,000. At first glance it visually captures your attention, but there is much more than meets the eye. It is not your ordinary home, equipped with a quaint little gift shop and a "Victorian Parlor" that is used for private parties. It feels like you're in Williamsburg Virginia or at a bed and breakfast. I wouldn't be surprised if you saw travelers passing through for a place to lay their head and eat a delicious home cooked meal as they continue on their journey. If this home wasn't enough for you, then I recommend looking next door at its fraternal twin brother. You'll be surprised to see another unique Victorian home with a similar exterior, but this one features an office and upscale tea room that hosts baby and bridal showers, as well as birthday tea parties. If you are one of those people that dreamed about having a home with a white picket fence, your dreams can finally come true and you won't even have to leave NYC.

More information and photos at Homes & Land Google Map

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Trendy, Fun and Delicious Piece of NYC, Rolled Up and Dipped in Staten Island


Photo by Photo by Konstantin Sergeyev from NY Magazine

The coolest place to eat sushi this side of the Verrazano Bridge is without a doubt Fushimi, located at 2110 Richmond Rd. As soon as you walk through the double doors you notice that this isn’t your ordinary Japanese restaurant. Your eyes immediately dart back and forth between the multi-colored lights flashing on the floors, walls, ceiling and bar. Your ears are treated to the loud, yet pleasant club-like music that plays throughout the restaurant and your mind is telling you that you’ve just stepped foot into a trendy little lounge somewhere in the village in Manhattan. But then you refocus all of your senses and realize that not only are in Staten Island, but you’re standing in a restaurant about to sit down next to a family of 8 enjoying a massive plate of sushi with colors so bright that you think they’re painted.


Photo by Photo by Konstantin Sergeyev from NY Magazine

Aside from the ubiquitous salmon and tuna rolls that show up in every Japanese restaurant, Fushimi has employed one of the most creative sushi menus that I’ve ever seen. Mixing all different kinds of fish, lobster, crab and fruits like Mango, Bananas and Papaya, there are combinations and rolls that no average person could think of on their own. But rest assured, every combination is supremely fresh, absolutely delicious and beautifully presented. While all of your basic rolls are average priced, around $5-$6, the special rolls will set you back about $16-$18 per roll. Each of the special rolls is divided into 8 large pieces, and 2 of these rolls are enough to satisfy most people. For those that aren’t into sushi, there’s a complete menu of amazingly delicious cooked fish dishes, along with different varieties of chicken and beef entrees. The truth is that you can’t go wrong with any dish that you choose.


Photo by Photo by Konstantin Sergeyev from NY Magazine

Fushimi is a place you want to keep coming back to, not only because you will always find something on the menu that you want to try, but also because it’s a cool, trendy and inviting atmosphere where you want to hang out. - By special guest blogger Adam Steinhandler

Official Website
Fushimi [Yelp Reviews]

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Industry Tip: Save Money By Filing A Property Tax Return


Photo by Mint Software on Flickr.

Lately, I've been talking a lot about the tax incentives for first-time buyers that are not available for existing homeowners. Fortunately there is another way for existing homeowners to take advantage of the down market and reduce their property taxes. For those knowledgeable in the real estate industry probably know about this, but I'm sure the majority of the country is unaware that you can file a residential property tax return to contest your county's property valuation.

According to an article from Knowledgeplex, "Real estate records show hundreds of properties for sale today at a fraction of their taxable values.". Assessors are required by law to set the value of what the property would be worth in a fair market sale. Typically they will not use distressed sales such as foreclosures as a part of their calculation, but due to the current situation of the economy these variables may be required when setting values for 2009. Having said all that, now is the time to take advantage of this tax re-assessment and save some money. A residential property tax return is a simple process, which I will outline for you below and I highly recommend you look into further. Plus, who wouldn't love to find a way to save money...I know I certainly would!

How To File A Property Tax Return To Lower Your Taxes (NYC):
  1. Fill out respective tax form based on property class at NYC Finance.
  2. Mail your respective form to the: NYC Department of Finance, Property Division, 66 John Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10038 BY APRIL.
  3. Finance will evaluate information you have provided and make appropriate changes before they determine your next year's taxes.
* For other county's, contact your county tax assessor directly or go to their website for more information.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Staten Island Courthouse Coming Soon!



For years, Staten Island has taken steps to update many of the areas around the borough that are old and run down. We've spent millions to renovate buildings, beautify parks and public spaces and improve the overall aesthetic of the island. The private sector has even gotten involved with the conversion of old warehouses by the water into the upscale co-ops known as Bay Street Landing. The ferry terminal and the immediate areas around the ferry terminal were prime targets for these updates and renovations and for good reason. These are the areas that many people see first when they come to Staten Island via the ferry. Their first thoughts and impressions of Staten Island are molded by what they see immediately after getting off of the ferry.

The building of a brand new courthouse down on Bay Street was the next step in improving that area even further. A massive new courthouse that will house supreme courts, civil courts and criminal courts will be the focus of construction over the next 3 years. Located in the St. George area of Staten Island not far from the ferry terminal, the new building will cost the city approximately $220 million and will be the borough's largest capital investment for a building ever. The new courthouse promises to be environmentally friendly too, with solar panels and green roofs.

Staten Island continues to spend capital on ensuring a modern and aesthetically pleasing look in the hopes of changing the perception of the island. For years, Staten Island was the dump of the 5 boroughs, both literally and figuratively, and the steps that we've taken to reverse that stigma are both tremendous and plentiful. As long as capital spending on this borough doesn't come to a halt, given time, Staten Island could see itself prosper into an even more beautiful place to live in and visit. - By special guest blogger Adam Steinhandler

Staten Island Officials Break Ground On New Courthouse [NY1]

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Fun Day Video: Staten Island Attractions

Check out this video highlighting Staten Island's best tourist attractions. This is a really nice video with some great helicopter aerial shots, filmed by Borough's Hall's Andy Levison. If you are waiting at the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan, you can watch this video in better quality on the flat screen TV there.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

SIREN Featured On Curbed...How Cool!


The big boys of real estate blogging, Curbed, have took notice to my blog and like what they see. I received an email today from the President and Founder of Curbed, Lockhart Steele, saying "Great blog. We'll link it up today! Keep in touch.". I checked back a couple hours later, elated to see that Curbed added a BlogWatch post about SIREN...Two new blogs to take note of on this fine Friday. First, from the wilds of Staten Island comes SIREN, aka Staten Island Real Estate News, a blog replete with tidbits...

To be featured on a well renowned blog such as Curbed is an honor, and this is an indication that I'm headed in the right direction!

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Friday, January 23, 2009

SINY Pizza Tour Testimonial

I just want to share with you guys some very kind and sincere words from someone on the SINY Pizza Tour. This goes to show you that Staten Island is a place that has so much to offer, and it is embraced by people from all over.

Seriously Mitchell, both Robyn and I left Staten Island with the feeling that we were part of the family...not something we have always experienced on our previous visits to Manhattan. You and the SINY board members truly put your best foot forward, and we're now convinced it's the place to stay on any future visits to the New York area.

As far as the tour is concerned, I don't know that you could have done anything better...it was informative, entertaining, interesting, and best of all: filling! Hopefully, I can come back in a few months and defend my title!

Thanks again for a great afternoon. - Jan D. Wright from Roanoke Virginia

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NY Times and SIREN See Eye To Eye


Photo by lumaxart on Flickr.

I knew when I first started SIREN I was on to something. There have been many sources lately that are validating my thoughts on the real estate market. If the NY Times and I can see eye to eye, there is no reason you shouldn't either. It's ironic, but the real estate market did a complete 180 and the demographic of people who are brave enough to buy a home are not your typical Wall Street professionals with high bonuses that suffered huge stock losses, but rather the average day person with a modest income. According to Jessica Armstead, a broker at the Corcoran Group, there has been recent influxes of buyers in New York looking for apartments and homes that were not seen in previous months. This makes sense when you take into account that a large number of those people are first-time home-buyers and have seen home prices decline faster than the rents they pay. With 30 year fixed mortgage rates around 5%, steep depreciation in home prices and the tax incentives available, why would you waste your money on rent when your mortgage payments may be comparable to your rental payments. The biggest uncertainty for buyers is whether prices will decrease further, but I think there are a number of other variables that people overlook, which I mentioned above. If you break it down, even if prices go down further and mortgage rates start to creep back up, your interest payments will offset the savings you make on a lower priced home. I believe your decision will be based on various life scenarios and I’m curious to see over the next few years the people who will prevail and come out on top. The NY Times article below has some great examples and stories of buyers that were brave enough to look past the uncertainty of the real estate market and feel comfortable in purchasing a home.

For the Brave, the Moment Is Now [NY Times]

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quality Meets Consistency: Sapporo Sushi Review!


Photo by Inky Circus Blog

Nestled in the back of the Blockbuster shopping center on Richmond Ave. and Victory Blvd. lies an established little Japanese restaurant called Sapporo. There, you’ll find a quiet and comfortable atmosphere, complete with traditional Japanese d├ęcor, Japanese music and the sushi bar. It’s a small restaurant with only about 15-20 tables, each with their own lit candles, so it makes for a very quaint and intimate atmosphere.

Sushi restaurants have become a dime a dozen on Staten Island and it’s rare to find one that blends quality, consistency and value like Sapporo does. I’ve been eating there for almost a decade now, and I’ve always found the fish to be exceptionally fresh, and the presentation to be creative and beautiful. Fresh fish, comfortable atmosphere, decent pricing and friendly service makes this one of my favorite Japanese restaurants on the island. - By special guest blogger Adam Steinhandler

Official Site [Sapporo]

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Builder's Virtual Tools for Success: Part II


Photo by Relucesco22 on Flickr.

I'm back and I've got the rest of your builder wish list. Whether your a seasoned builder or first starting out your career don't lose these tools, so I recommend that you tuck them away in a safe place.

Home Energy Saver - This is a great analytics tool that provides valuable cost savings data based on certain input specifications. The site uses a combination of questions such as demographic, location, detailed description of the home
and current utility rates in order to recommend upgrades you can make to achieve potential savings for heating, cooling, major and small appliances, lighting and water heating.
McMaster-Carr - A site I really like due to its simplicity in providing comprehensive information to connect product manufacturers and suppliers with builders. This site is organized in categories such as Hand Tools, Machinery Maintenance and raw materials, which includes a link to the respective product prices and specs.
NAHB House Price Estimator - A Microsoft Excel based tool that allows builders to enter various characteristics to find out which features and amenities affect the price of a home. A great comparative analysis tool to strategically building a home.
UPworld - A web-based networking tool for professionals in the building and real estate industry. This site acts as a platform to connect professionals in the real estate community for potential new business opportunities, deals and projects.

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A Builder's Virtual Tools for Success: Part I


A builder is only as good as his tools. That motto also extends to the internet, where a variety of tools are becoming just as valuable as what's in a builders tool bag. I don't know where I would be without the internet because most of the information you need is at the touch of your fingertips in a matter of seconds. The internet is a platform for endless connections and information that if you use it to your advantage you'll be light years ahead of those builders that were unable to adapt to the constantly changing virtual environment. Online tools can help you analyze data efficiently, connect you with a supplier and let you know whether certain materials meet green building guidelines or code standards. Oh, and don't forget about SIREN because we wouldn't want to leave that out of the running for a useful virtual tool :)

Below are 5 useful internet tools that I think would be helpful if you choose to start dabbling in the virtual world. Come back tomorrow for Part II of this post and for some more links that would be good to add to your list.

The Appliance Advisor - A comprehensive informational site for consumers, dealers, kitchen designers, distributors, the media or manufacturers about all major and minor brands of appliances.
NAHB Green - The National Green Building Program offers several resources and tools to help builders, home building associations, and homeowners learn how to build green, and the benefits of doing so.
Material ConneXion - A global platform for materials solution and innovation providing advisory services to to a multitude of companies, building and design professionals. For a $250 annual fee, virtual library users can access a wide range of information on more than 4,500 materials and processes.
Mosaic Tile Supplies - A e-commerce site that provides a comprehensive product catalog of high quality tiles at a reasonable price. A design portfolio offers application ides, and an installation tips section that provides helpful advice.
Smart Growth: A Toolkit for Realtors - An online tool kit, courtesy of the National Association of Realtors to provide guidance and principles on community planning, how to deal with different development patterns, and the financial impacts of these patterns.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Pizza anyone? SINY Pizza Tour!


Photo by SIREN on Flickr.

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza…New York is known for having the best pizza. Well who would have thought that some of the best pizza places were in one of NYC’s boroughs, Staten Island? A new cultural initiative called SINY put together a Staten Island Pizza Tour and let me tell you, the pizza on Staten Island is out of this world. The tour had a very special friendly and knowledgeable tour guide; SINY Executive Director, Larry Ambrosino. Larry gave us tidbits as we traveled the Island that I never even knew about.

The tour started at Staten Island’s Hilton Garden Inn on South Avenue and then went to four pizzerias with a stop at the Staten Island Zoo for some breathing room between stops. We visited the famous Jimmy Max in Westerleigh, Joe & Pat’s in Castleton Corners, Deninos in Port Richmond and lastly but not least Lee’s Tavern in Dongan Hills. Although you may think who would want to keep eating pizza all day long, especially when you are stuffed, but these places have such phenomenal pizza you cannot help it but to eat another slice. The tour bus was lucky enough to have a couple from Roanoke Virginia join us and they were so excited to be eating at some of Staten Island’s finest pizzerias. We even had a pizza eating contest to see who was able to eat the most pizza. Lo and behold it was the tourist from Virginia, Jan Wright who won the contest by eating 7 3/4 slices of pizza. Poor guy was stuffed like a turkey by the end of the tour.


Photo by SIREN on Flickr: Pizza Eating Contest Winner, Jan Wright.

The pizza varies from place to place but they all have their own style which makes each place so unique. Jimmy Max served their very light and crispy margherita pizza with the freshest ingredients that are so light and tasty you can easily eat a whole pie yourself. Then the tour bus stopped at the Staten Island Zoo where the zookeepers gave us a behind the scenes look at the venomous snakes the zoo maintains. OK, I will get to more details about the zoo later but let’s continue on with the pizza places. So, the next place was Joe & Pat’s whose sauce was amazing. Also, the crispy crust added a great texture to Joe & Pat’s unique slice. Followed by Joe & Pat's was Deninos. Going to school a few blocks away, I was no stranger to this place and their pizza never disappointed me in the past. Well once again the pizzeria did not disappoint me. Here we were served a white pie, which is a pie with only onions, fresh garlic, a drizzle of olive and of course cheese but no sauce. At this point we were all just about stuffed but we finished every bit of pizza since it was so scrumptious. Next was Lee’s Tavern. This pizzeria is one of those local word of mouth places that it does not even need a sign on the front door, but somehow everyone knows what it is. At this charming place, we were served the pizzeria's fresh regular pie, but there was nothing regular about their slices. Oh and did I forget to mention that every single place we went to was packed from when we started at 11:30 in the morning till 3 in the afternoon.


Photo by SIREN on Flickr: SINY Pizza Tour Group Picture.

OK, so back to the zoo part. Our stop at the zoo was a good break in between pizzerias as we spoke with the snake handlers. The Staten Island Zoo does not remove the venom from some of their snakes for humane reasons. We also saw the zookeeper feed the alligators and watched them chomp away on their food (dead mice) just as we did at each pizzeria.


Photo by SIREN on Flickr.

What: SINY Pizza Tour
Where: Jimmy Max, Joe & Pat’s, Deninos and Lee’s Tavern - Tour meets at the SI Ferry Terminal or Hilton Garden Inn
When: Saturdays from 11am-4pm. To reserve a spot call SINY at 347-273-1257.
Cost: $40


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Friday, January 16, 2009

Love Your Home...Buy New It's Time

The Builders League of South Jersey has launched Buy New It’s Time, a public information campaign to address some of the misconceptions about the housing market in South Jersey. I'm glad to see a community organization use it's influential voice and experience in the real estate industry to aid in strengthening buyer confidence. This site offers a wide range of information that will answer consumers’ toughest questions about buying a new home in today's current market and the top reasons on why you shouldn't wait to buy a new home. I think if there were more organizations like this throughout the country that focused on addressing their regions concerns, individual communities and neighborhoods would have an easier time of rebuilding itself. Through education and the proper guidance communities will grow and flourish once again.


Official Website [Builders League of South Jersey]
Official Website [Buy New It's Time]

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Friday Link from The Real Deal


Photo by directmoneyhomeloans on Flickr.

Earlier this month, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz urged Sen. Charles Schumer to investigate plans by Fannie Mae to raise the pre-sale requirements for mortgage loans in new condominium and co-op buildings.Fannie Mae will raise the pre-sale requirement for new mortgage guarantees from 51 percent to 70 percent starting March 1, 2009. Many officials are concerned that the new policy that 70 percent of a building be sold out before Fannie will insure financing will put dozens of new condo projects at risk as individual unit buyers will be unable to obtain bank financing. Some banks may still lend in buildings that don't meet the pre-sale requirements, but Fannie will not buy loans from those banks. - By David Jones [The Real Deal]

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Z-One Bar/Restaurant/Lounge Review


Photo by SIREN on Flickr.

Let’s face it, Staten Island isn’t exactly known for its nightlife. Most people venture to the city or even Brooklyn and Queens on Saturday nights and for good reason. The options are extremely limited, with most of the choices designed with a younger crowd in mind. It’s been a while since Staten Island saw a brand new lounge open, one where the crowd consists of a nice class of people in their late 20s all the way up to their 40s and 50s. Z-One Bar/Restaurant/Lounge is one of the newest additions to the island having opened just a few months ago. Located on Richmond Ave., about a mile north of the mall, but south of Victory Blvd., Z-One is somewhat of an enigma at first.

From the street, it lends the appearance of a lounge or club with a clean and modern look to the building, complete with outdoor “smoking section”. Walking into Z-one changed my initial perspective, but not in a bad way. Z-One is a combination Bar/Restaurant/Lounge with about two-thirds of Z-One’s floor-space dedicated to the restaurant portion. The other one-third is separated, but not closed off from the restaurant. This consists of the large bar, endless amounts of flat screen TVs, more tables and booths and a cooler, hipper atmosphere than the restaurant.

The restaurant menu is essentially an extended diner menu with some interesting options and average pricing. You could get the usual eggs and pancakes for breakfast or go there for lunch or dinner where I recommend the coconut chicken and spiced salmon rolls as an appetizer. The service was very friendly and constantly made sure we were content with everything. The food was good, but certainly not the reason for people to come here. The real reason emerges when the sun sets.

Photo by WhereYouEat.com

We went to Z-One one Saturday, around midnight. The parking lot was absolutely jammed, not a spot available and when we went inside, it was easy to see why. The diner was dark, but the bar/lounge area was absolutely jumping. There were easily a few hundred people crammed into the space with the DJ spinning Z100 and KTU like hits. The sound system was absolutely top notch and ambience was fun and exciting. Most people come here and grab a table with their friends, because waitress service exists in the bar area as does the full menu from the diner. Sitting there, you don’t think of yourself being in Staten Island. The ambience and people made me feel like I was in Astoria or Brooklyn at one of the cooler lounges out there.

My advice is to get to Z-One earlier on a Saturday with a bunch of friends and get a booth in the lounge. Get some drinks and try a bunch of the appetizers and enjoy Z-One because the trend with lounges on Staten Island seems to be that they don’t last very long. However, Z-One has a tremendous advantage by offering real food and a real restaurant and not just being a lounge. We’ll see how it goes, but in the meantime, it’s nice to finally have somewhere fun and upscale to go on a Saturday night in Staten Island. - By special guest blogger Adam Steinhandler

Z-One Bar/Restaurant/Lounge

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Architects Voted Sexiest Male Professionals

Step aside Models, Actors, Musicians, Lawyers, Doctors and Stockbrokers...apparently you don't have what it takes to be the sexiest creatures in the eyes of women :)



Architects are sexiest [Swiss Miss]

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Staten Island Secession Revisited: Bad Idea, Terrible Timing


Photo byboroughvoter.com on flickr.

There was a time not too long ago when Staten Island was the red headed step child of NYC. A time when we were the forgotten borough, left fending for ourselves fiscally. That time was back in 1993, when Staten Island voted overwhelmingly on a referendum to secede from the rest of NYC and become our own city, completely separate from the other 4 boroughs. While the referendum passed, the New York state assembly ruled that Staten Island couldn’t secede unless NYC requested it.

Fast forward 15 years, Staten Island is still part of NYC. We’ve made some sensational strides in those 15 years, all the while being a part of NYC and mostly because of it. We’ve closed the dump, built up dilapidated areas, built a sports stadium and redid the ferry terminals, built a brand new CUNY facility and went through a tremendous real estate boom. I’d say not seceding was probably one of the greatest things that never happened to Staten Island. Now, Andrew Lanza wants to revisit this topic? At a time when people are scared about losing their jobs, houses, and not being able to provide food for their families, he’s trying to cut off our financial lifeline to NYC? Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. What happens to all the NYC police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers and countless other city service employees who live in and work in Staten Island? What happens when we do secede, and NYC pulls the MTA from Staten Island and shuts down the Staten Island ferry service? How are all the thousands of Staten Island residents who rely on mass transit supposed to get to work? What happens when all those people who work for the city or work in Manhattan start moving to New Jersey and Brooklyn because of the commute? Staten Island will see a mass exodus of residents to other boroughs and states, the likes of which would be financially debilitating. Real Estate would drop precipitously, revenue streams would dry up and small businesses would all but disappear. Staten Island would without a doubt become the forgotten city if we seceded.

Mr. Lanza, this is not the time to be revisiting such a preposterous idea and I believe it is a complete waste of our government’s time and money to even explore this again. This is hardly the time to engage the New York State Assembly in a battle of secession, especially since I am doubtful that secession is on many Staten Islanders minds anymore. Take a poll Mr. Lanza, I think most Staten Island residents would rather continue to operate as the stepchild of NYC, rather than go out and try to start a family of our own. - By special guest blogger Adam Steinhandler

The Staten Island Moment, Revived!
[Curbed]
Bad Old Day Return Watch: Staten Island Secession [Bridge and Tunnel Club]

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Fifty People, One Question: New York

If you asked 50 New Yorkers of all different types of backgrounds and ethnicities one question, what type of answers do you think you will get? Check out the cool video below to find out.



Fifty People, One Question: New York [Swiss Miss]

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Record Breaking Low Mortgage Rates Strike Again!


Photo by fpsurgeon on Flickr.

Government sponsored mortgage lender Freddie Mac said Thursday that fixed rates on 30-year mortgages averaged 5.01% for the week ending Jan. 8th. That's down from 5.10% last week and well below 5.87%, which is where the rate stood at this time last year. The 30-year fixed rate mortgage has not been lower since Freddie Mac started conducting the survey in 1971.

I know some of you may be thinking...yea, yea, yea...blah, blah, blah...like we haven't' heard this before. Well, I'm going to conduct a little math lesson to show you your cost savings if you purchase a home now.

Loan Amount =$300,000
30 year fixed rate (Current)= 5.01%
30 yr fixed rate (Oct 2008) = approx. 6.51%

Approx. 30 Yr. = 383,344 - 280,428 = $102,916
Cost Savings

Avg. Yearly Cost Savings = 102,916 / 30 = $3,431

Avg. Monthly Cost Savings = 3,431 / 12 = $286

I love math because it says it all!!

Mortgage rates dip to new all-time low [CNNMoney]

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

All This Money and No One To Give It To


Photo by nomadic homemaker on Flickr.

Apparently what's wrong with the real estate market today is not so much the unwillingness of banks to loan money, but rather people's unwillingness to ask for it. There are billions of dollars that the FHA is trying to loan home buyer's, but people still aren't biting. With mortgage rates as low as they are, even if you can't afford a 20% down payment and have to pay PMI, the net payment is virtually equivalent to the 6%+ 30 year fixed rates of only a few months ago. And if you can afford the 20% down payment, most people are too scared to jump into the housing market and would rather sit on their cash rather than live in it.

Either way, you can't argue that home prices around the country are at their lowest levels in the past few years, with some case by case exceptions. If you are in the market, now is the time to kick it into high gear and start to seriously look. We are sitting on 5% 30 year fixed rates with no points today and those numbers are looking like they will come down even further. We have record low mortgage rates. We have record levels of housing inventory. We have record levels of foreclosures and bank owned properties and we still don't have people buying. It's amazing that the FHA is having such a tough time finding a home for all that money. - By special guest blogger Adam Steinhandler

Home Buyers Can Easily Find Money for Mortgages or Refinancing [KnowledgePlex]

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

SIREN's Top 6 Tips for Effective Space Planning


Photo by wili_hybrid on Flickr.

1
.
You can save yourself a lot of time and trouble by taking careful measurements and thinking through the following issues before you start drawing. When measuring existing spaces, lay your measuring tape flat on the floor and measure room dimensions in several places, especially where furniture will be a tight fit. Don’t assume your walls are parallel.

2. Before laying out furniture, look for projecting windowsills, and note the location of electrical receptacles, light switches, vents and thermostats.

3. When placing a desk, ask yourself, “What do I want to be looking at when I sit there?”

4. The walkway between a piece of furniture and a wall should be at least 30 inches in a residential space (36″ is preferred). In a public space it should be at least 36 inches (42″ is preferred).

5. When placing furniture on a residential plan, remember that most furniture will actually sit 2 or 3 inches from the wall.

6. Don’t line all the furniture up along the walls. Break up spaces by placing pieces out in the room. Setting rugs, sofas, or other furniture at angles can help avoid an overly rigid feel.

For more tips on effective space planning click here: [RISMedia]

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Even Brooklynites LOVE Staten Island!


Photo by *One* on Flickr (View in St. George)

I came across this forum post on the Brownstoner the other day about a Brooklynite moving to the St George area of Staten Island. The positive comments from both Brooklyn and Staten Island residents was a breath of fresh air and I'm glad to see that Staten Island has been getting the respect it deserves. People fear what they don't know, but as you can see Brooklynites are starting to accept and love Staten Island as well. I genuinely believe Staten Island will have it's moment of glory, and I hope through my blog I can help revitalize the perception of this historical island.

My allergies are acting up right now and my head feels like a ton of bricks, so I'll make this short and sweet. Gentrification in the St. George and surrounding areas have been prevalent over the past few years, making headlines in big blog and media sites such as the NY Times, Curbed, Gothamist, NY Observer and The Real Deal. I don't care for labels that much, but they are calling it "Williamsburg II". With an abundance of affordable homes, BEAUTIFUL Victorian homes, the exclusive Bay Street Landing development, a thriving artist community (you can always see hot local bands at Martini Red or national acts at the St. George Theatre), great restaurants, Richmond County Bank Ballpark...home to the SI Yankees, Borough Hall, the exquisite Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, you really can't go wrong if you choose to live here. Apparently this post wasn't short, but it certainly was sweet!

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Monday Fun Day Video

So what's going to happen in 2009 when the analog TVs go dead? People will be stuck without some great shows. Well, a digital converter can fix this issue, but with differences in generations some people may have trouble making sure their TVs do not go dead. Check out this hilarious video...I guarantee it will make you chuckle the entire way through. - By special guest blogger, code name DeXter



The Digital TV Transition [Gov]

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Optimistic Predictions of 2009!


Photo by Antonio Goya on Flickr.

I am for sure no "Negative Nancy"...therefore if I come across a positive outlook on the economy, I often tend to share it with my loyal readers to brighten up their day. I found the quote below on the Brownstoner that was taken from an article setting forth nine predictions of 2009. Stay focused on the optimistic predictions! Do you think Mark Sunshine is being overly confident or not?

Prediction: In January, the banks will realize that they cannot avoid lending forever. The Federal Reserve will financially punish any bank that refuses to lend by manipulating interest rates so that banks that hoard cash lose money. From the industry ashes a banking prophet will emerge who will preach the gospel of positive net interest spread through responsible lending.

— Mark Sunshine of First Capital


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Thursday, January 1, 2009

U2 - New Year's Day

HAPPY and HEALTHY NEW YEAR to ALL!!!

I have a treat for you guys today I'm sure everyone will enjoy. I would like to start off the New Year with the sweet sounds of a band I'm sure everyone has heard of... Great song, by an amazing band.

Who: U2
Video: New Year's Day (live at Slane Castle in Ireland)

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