Profile picture for digbydog

Are there any serious sellers in Short Hills / Millburn?

I have $600,000 to spend and want a 4 bed 2 bath in Short Hills / Millburn on a quiet street with no trains in the back yard. All agents say this is impossible. Should I be looking at $800-$900K house and offering $600K. I am ready to go but can wait if necessary. Any thoughts? Am I in dreamland or are the sellers?
  • January 29 2009 - Short Hills
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Answers (16)

Everything is possible. I would expect that you will find a property in Millburn.
  • October 27 2009
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Hi there - there may be a listing or two in the MLS but finding a desirable home that fits your criteria in Short Hills/Millburn in your price range is a long shot. I worked with a couple and this very area was our target.  We were attracted to one home from the kitchen photos - beautiful - when we arrived I couldn't believe my eyes - neighborhood of ranches and splits, price for the home of interest was over $1,200K. This couple's search evolved and they ended up - and are very happy to be - in Westfield.  In their case, the commute to the city was paramount, and so they gave up nothing in making the switch.  We also considered Livingston, Chatham and Summit.

You'll have more luck if you move further west - you can look along 78 - communities that hug the highway and have train access in town or close by include New Providence, Berkeley Heights, Long Hill Township, Watchung, Warren, Basking Ridge, Bernardsville, Green Brook and Bridgewater,  Schools are good if that matters to you - prices will be far more forgiving.

The Short Hills/Millburn market has come down - no market has been immune to the decine, but the areas closer the city with great train access have held up better than many and I think that will continue.  And so while your goal may not be impossible, you have described a bit of "needle in the haystack" scenario.  I'd recommend you adjust your scope a bit and not miss the great opportunities that exist in other communities and with sellers that "get it".

Good luck!
  • February 15 2009
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Profile picture for CirclingVulture
Yes, start your bids at 30% below asking: 

58 Wellington Ave, Short Hills, NJ 07078

Nov 28, 2007 - $795,000 - MLS # 2464356

Dec 09, 2007 - Attorney Review

Dec 13, 2007 - Under Contract

Jan 10, 2008 - Active

Jan 11, 2008 - Attorney Review

Jan 14, 2008 - Under Contract

Feb 04, 2008 - Closed at $600,000


Recent (2007) township assessment was $855,000.

http://www.circlingvulture.com

  • February 12 2009
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Profile picture for frisky1
Glen Ridge NJ - same county and almost the same prestige as Short Hills. From the  www.njrereport.com

This beauty was purchased in June of 2006 by a Lehman Brothers Senior VP. Built in 2002, this baby has got it all, new world materials and old world craftsmanship. 6 Bedrooms, 9 Baths, and 10 other rooms that comprise an 8,900 square foot monument to excess. Taxes? 80 grand.

Purchase price? $3,700,000.00 (Yep, three point seven million)

Fast forward to September 17th, 2008, two days after the Lehman bankruptcy was announced, coincidentally.

Back on the market, this time at a price of $3,900,000.00. Factoring in the 5% commission, the seller would be walking away with roughly $3.7 million at this asking price, two years later and you break even, not too shabby. What real estate crash?

Come October, still not sold. I don’t get it, upscale train town with a great school system? This place should have been snapped up in a.. snap? Guess not, price reduced to $3,675,000.

Another month goes by, now we’re well into November. Still no sale. Price reduced again, $3,350,000. Now we’re firmly into loss territory. Factoring in commission, we’re at roughly a half a million dollar loss here. Surely no problem for a baller of this caliber.

December? Snooze.

January? Snip, price cut to $2,999,000.

Now we’re talking about serious cash. $701,000 under what they paid for it. Factor in that pesky 5% commission and now we’re at a loss of $851,000 in a little over two years.

Comes out to roughly a 10% per year loss, 20% off peak. Not so bad I guess, outperformed the stock market. Oh, wait, one catch… It still hasn’t sold.

  • February 04 2009
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Profile picture for Bob Meaux

Hi, you're not in dreamland. There are currently two homes in town, listed through the MLS, that meet your specifications. Have you cut them off your list already? One has 4bd, 2ba for $499,000 and the other has 4bd, 3.1ba for $599,000 asking price. After that it jumps to $749,000. More inventory will come on in the weeks ahead and asking price doesn't always equal sold price.

  • January 31 2009
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Profile picture for digbydog
Thank you Mr Paolella for a very honest answer which makes a refreshing change in your industry.

It amazes me how sellers don't get it - if your house has been on the market for months and months without selling then it must be overpriced.

I am assuming that you also cannot see any 4 bed 2 bath properties listed that reflect the true market value in the short hills / millburn area......


  • January 30 2009
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Profile picture for frisky1
uh oh, short hills.

cnnmoney - NYC might be in trouble
  • January 30 2009
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Profile picture for Marc Paolella

And by the way, 

A low offer is often called for in the current market. Many properties are overpriced and a low offer is not low, just reasonable given the current sales. In that case, I write up the low offer and attempt to sell it to the sellers using data and logic. If it works, fine, if not, they can keep their mis-priced property on the market for another year. They are going to sell it to SOMEBODY at market value. I explain it might as well be to my buyer, who is well qualified and well informed.

-Marc

  • January 30 2009
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Profile picture for Marc Paolella

Hi guys,

Yes, I am a buyers agent. However a buyers agent job is to protect and advance the interests of his client. So my advice to my buyers depends on their motivation and timeframe. If my buyer has a good chance of relocation or job change and the timeframe is short, I'm telling them to rent, not buy. There is significant downside risk in the short term. If my buyer wants to buy a multi-family to invest and needs positive capital gains to offset mediocre cash flow, I'm telling him to forget about it, it probably will not happen. The supply of multi-family homes on the market is gargantuan. Prices are certain to continue falling in that segment.

However if my buyer want to buy a house primarily to live in and enjoy, to raise a family, to gain better schools, etc., and the timeframe is long term, and the down payment is sufficient, I'm saying buy now, why not? Interest rates are low, prices have declined, it's a good time to buy for that buyer profile. I also explain that once they close, further price erosion is likely, but if the time frame is 10 years or more, it will most likely come back.

Many buyers obsess over the downturn and worry if buying is the right thing. If that is the mindset, I say: don't buy. The market is not right for you. You have to be happy doing this home buying thing. If you're going to lose sleep about losing 15% for a few years on your home purchase, don't buy. Just rent and wait until you feel more comfortable.

Home buying should be a fun adventure, not a stressful ordeal.

As for Forbes and all the predictions, they are garbage, like all predictions. Nobody know anything about the future period.

If you have a family, and a need to live well, and you want a house, and you have the money, and the job or business is solid, then damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

-Marc

  • January 30 2009
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Profile picture for frisky1
I do agree that clawing your way into supposedly unattainable towns is stupid. But I think its stupid when prices are going up and people are falling over each other to outbid themselves. When markets are crashing -- and we don't know yet how far or if the NJ market will crash but there are definitely many homes in "good towns" selling and even listing below sales prices of the last 4 years -- I do think its a golden opportunity to grab as much as you can. Billions of dollars live and have been invested in Short Hills, it has amazing train access to manhattan, and the cache of the mall gives it a mythic quality. So regardless of what anyone thinks about SH, it is likely to continue being a good buy at the right price.  if there are some chinks in the armor for the next few years, I say pounce. I do think that people should be looking now because there may be exceptional and specific buying opportunities now even if prices continue to drop. The best strategy is to know every house for sale in your 10-20 mile radius and focus on the best ones in the best towns--get as much info on the motivation as you can and politely but firmly bid low. Walk away if there's not a significant reduction. Its likely to be the only offer the seller gets and it puts better number on the home's value than their ask price. Don't tell me listing prices don't drop by 100k all the time. Happens here in Bedminster, Bernardsville and Tewksbury--often after a lowball offer comes in, from what I hear.
  • January 30 2009
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Profile picture for digbydog
Mr Paolella you are a buyers agent. Are you advising your clients to buy now at these prices or telling them to wait as you mention prices will fall more. Perhaps offering $600K for $800K house is not so wrong.

Do you see any houses currently listed that offer fair value in Short Hills/Millburn area?
  • January 30 2009
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Profile picture for Mark75NYC

Most of North Jersey is expected to see a 25% decline in real estate values in 2009.  So my advice is to wait until this time next year, and you'll probably be able to afford the type of house you want.

North Jersey's "Edison metro area" (which includes all of Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Ocean County, and Somerset County) and "Newark metro area" (which includes all of Essex County (where Millburn/Short Hills is located), Hunterdon County, Morris County, Sussex County, and Union County) are both included in Forbes' recent list of the "25 weakest housing markets."

America's 25 Weakest Housing Markets - Forbes.com


Metro Area: Edison, N.J. (Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Ocean County, and Somerset County)
Population: 2,410,700
When will the bottom be reached?: end of 2009
Forecast price change to bottom: -26.5%


Metro Area: Newark, N.J. (Essex County, Hunterdon County, Morris County, Sussex County, and Union County)
Population: 2,167,400
Bottom Expected: end of 2009
Forecast price change to bottom: -25.6%

New Jersey sellers are in a what will turn out to be a very brief period of denial.  This would be probably the absolute worst time to buy at these prices.  Values are going nowhere but down for the rest of the year, and at best will remain FLAT thereafter for many years to come.

  • January 29 2009
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Profile picture for Marc Paolella
Hi frisky1,

I agree to an extent. But I see this all the time. A buyer with unrealistic expectations, positive or negative. Yes the market will come down some. But the days of a beautiful Colonial in Short Hills for $575,000 are over. Not that you can't find something in Short Hills for that price. But it will have some compromises.

During the last 6 months, the median home price in Short Hills is $955,000, down from $990,000 during the same period last year. And that is during the Wall St meltdown.

Besides, what does the term "unattainable" location really mean? Even if you do buy a house in Short Hills on a budget. Who wants to be THAT small a fish in THAT big a pond? What is the point? The schools in Millburn are not THAT good that you should spend an eternity with your life on hold waiting to get into the Magic Kingdom.

I think it's just chasing a false dream, to live in a "status" location with all the other "status" people. At the end of the day, you live in your 4 walls with those you love, nobody else really gives a damn. Find a nice house in a good school district, buy the house, and move on. It's not rocket science.

Waiting 3 years for misfortune to befall enough people so that prices permit you to live in a smaller house in Short Hills is insane.

-Marc


  • January 29 2009
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Profile picture for frisky1
Almost every line of business in NJ is hurting right now and wall street affects them all. the poster is willing to live in the Millburn section per the post and I believe that homes there could come down to close to their price. One of the only reasons to buy a house these days is to get into these unattainable towns that have the best chance to rebound eventually. So I say if they want to pay Millburn taxes, go for it. Marc, post back in 6 months and tell us how Short Hills is doing.
  • January 29 2009
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Profile picture for Marc Paolella
Bidding $600,000 on $900,000 homes is only going to get you frustration. I think your mistake is obsessing on a Short Hills location and lamenting that nothing you want is in your price range. $600,000 can get you 4BR and 2 baths and a quiet location in a hundred different areas that would be fine.

It's just not enough money for Short Hills unless you can tolerate some noise. Also it's a myth that everyone in Short Hills works on Wall St and the whole town is going to implode. Short Hills residents work in every imaginable profession. Medicine, law, you name it. The town is not going to become affordable because a few people lost their jobs on Wall St. It will experience moderate price drops similar to Westfield, Summit, Montclair, etc. But it will always be at the top end of locations because people with lots of money live there and the schools and commutability are very good.

I would stop wasting time looking for a house in an area you cannot afford and move on with one of the many beautiful areas you can afford. It will save you time and cut down on the release of stomach acid.


But the idea that you wait for 6 months and move into a nice Short Hills home for $575,000 is ridiculous.
  • January 29 2009
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Profile picture for frisky1
Yes, you are in dreamland but not because you are crazy. Here in Jersey, sellers have been extremely resistant to seeing the truth of the market. A lot of it might be because so many people have so much money they can afford to keep their asking prices high and a lot might be because of the competitive nature of the area, people are afraid to let their neighbors know they are in trouble. We do have a thriving foreclosure/short sale business going here but for the most part, its still in towns you might not want to live in. Give it time though and that might change. I do think its a very good idea to look at homes much higher than your budget because as you know, Short Hills and Summit are very very tied to wall street and its really possible they may implode. Its quite likely that they might drop more than the rest of the state as they rose much higher during the bubble. I bet you'll find someone with a 800+ house that will sell for about 600. Just don't turn into a snob. I lived in Chatham when I lived in the area because I couldn't stand the bitchiness of SH/Summit. you should also be reading www.njrereport.com.  good luck.
  • January 29 2009
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