From the NY Times:
LOOKING for a deal in a down market? As winter sets in, the fruits of desperation — foreclosure sales, short sales, auction sales and deep discounts — are appearing in bountiful number, if anyone out there is hungry for a bargain.
Consider one example, a spacious six-bedroom colonial at 203 Highwood Avenue in Leonia, now on the market for $390,000.
The 90-year-old house, which has two and a half baths, has the obvious drawbacks of normal wear and tear, and an annual tax bill over $11,000. But it is in a community known for fine schools; last year it was on the market for $535,000. A potential buyer’s offer of $490,000 was rejected as too low, according to Reetesh Sood of Exit Platinum Realty, who is now handling the bank sale of the house.
Last summer, before foreclosure, the house became available as a short sale, in which a lender allows the owner to sell the house for less than the amount owed on the mortgage. The asking price then was $460,000. In September, after the bank took over and the owners departed, Mr. Sood listed the property at $420,000; last month he reduced the price twice more.
Mr. Sood said he was still getting calls. One was from the buyer who last offered $490,000; another was from a neighbor down the street, who actually made an offer the bank accepted, but then withdrew it out of “guilt” over taking advantage of a former friend’s misfortune.
The house on Highwood is one of 61 bank-owned properties for sale for less than $500,000 in Bergen County, according to multiple listing figures cited by Sharon Gill of Prudential New Jersey Properties. There are also 11 listed for more than $500,000.
“True, true bargains are available at every price level,” said Ms. Gill, who is based in Montclair, and is marketing several bank-owned properties in Essex County. One is 3 Brentwood Drive in North Caldwell, a custom-built five-bedroom six-bath French provincial listed at $949,000. (It was sold for $1.9 million in August 2006.) The backyard has a free-form pool with its own island.
In Essex County, for example, there are 603 homes under $500,000 identified as short sales, according to Ms. Gill. In Union County there are 625 — “phenomenal” numbers, in her view.
Last month the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that a record number of New Jersey homeowners were in trouble with their loans. Slightly more than 15 percent of mortgage holders are in foreclosure proceedings, or are delinquent on payments, the bank association said.