Welcome to another edition of Lowball!

Lowball! takes a look at home sales over the past week from a very different perspective. For those new to Lowball!, a lowball offer is when a buyer offers a significantly lower bid than asking in hopes that the seller accepts the offer. We take a list of home sales over the past week and pick out the sales that have the highest percentage difference between asking price and selling price.

The reason for Lowball! is to show buyers that the market has changed and buyers now have considerably more leverage than sellers. Just a short time ago, lowball offers would have been laughed at and discarded, however, not any more. The fact that so many under-asking offers are being accepted is clear proof that the market is changing.

The list does not contain all sales, I hand-pick the most interesting sales from the list. These listings might be the highest dollar drops, biggest percentage reductions, or sales in towns that are thought to still be ‘hot’. Please note, even with double digit percentage reductions, these homes are still incredibly overpriced.

So let’s take a look at this weeks list of Lowball! sales.

MLS# 2094005 – East Hanover, NJ
Asking Price $1,600,000
Selling Price $1,300,000 (18.8% Lowball)

MLS# 2070669 – West Paterson, NJ
Asking Price $575,000 (Originally asking an amazing $725,000)
Selling Price $500,000 (13% Lowball)

MLS# 2105356 – Green Brook, NJ
Asking Price $1,148,780
Selling Price $999,999 (13% Lowball)

MLS# 1563380 – Wayne, NJ
Asking Price $429,900
Selling Price $375,000 (12.8% Lowball)

MLS# 2073586 – South Orange, NJ
Asking Price $359,000 (Originally asking $389,000)
Selling Price $320,000 (10.9% Lowball)

MLS# 2056010 – Cranford, NJ
Asking Price $369,900
Selling Price $330,000 (10.8% Lowball)

MLS# 2076587 – Livingston, NJ
Asking Price $1,900,000 (Originally asking $2,150,000)
Selling Price $1,700,000 (10.5% Lowball)

MLS# 2073810 – Maplewood, NJ
Asking Price $315,000 (Originally asking $325,000)
Selling Price $282,000 (10.5% Lowball)

MLS# 2103281 – Parsippany, NJ
Asking Price $585,000
Selling Price $525,000 (10.3% Lowball)

MLS# 2092409 – Clifton, NJ
Asking Price $529,000
Selling Price 475,000 (10.2% Lowball)

MLS# 2201031 – New Providence, NJ
Asking Price $609,000
Selling Price $ 547,000 (10.2% Lowball)

MLS# 2092309 – Millburn, NJ
Asking Price $1,395,000 (Originally asking $1,495,000)
Selling Price $1,290,000 (7.5% Lowball)

MLS# 2102157 – Madison, NJ
Asking Price $549,000
Selling Price $510,000 (7.3% Lowball)
(About time this one sold, I believe it was relisted more than once)

To all the prospective buyers on the market. If you absolutely must buy a house today, while I can’t stop you (although I might try), there is no reason to bid over asking. If you’ve got to buy, Lowball!

Caveat Emptor,

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39 Responses to Lowball!

  1. njdoc says:


    Congratulations on making the Ledger. Thank you for the good work. I really enjoy your blog.

  2. Congrats on making the paper.

    Also, its amazing how some of these people pay over 500k to live in such bad area’s. West Patterson, besided being very close to Patterson, is also a flood zone and there is so much traffic there. so not worth it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    went to see some open houses today. some sellers are asking for what they bought a year ago for 200K to 300K more. cannot wait to see these greedy people see the reality.

  4. Richie says:

    Not to mention, west paterson is going to have an additional 700 townhouses once the development finishes up on Garrett Mountain.

    Such a shame, I don’t understand why counties even bother having “open space” committees when they are too busy collecting their kickbacks from the developers. Obviously, these people aren’t travelling the major highways during rush hour.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Good job.

    Expose the corrupt real estate industry.
    They serve only their own interests.

  6. Anonymous says:


    Who are the idiots that paid those insane prices.


  7. grim says:

    I’ve been meaning to hike up to the top of Rifle Camp reservation and take some photos of the Hovnanian development (aka the giant pit).

    They aren’t making any more land, but they sure have plenty of land left to develop.

    Speaking of Hovnanian Developments, aside from the 600+ condos on Garrett Mountain, what about Hilltop on the old Essex County Jail property? 27 Homes on the first parcel, and another 50 homes on the second. I belive there is an additional adult community of approximately 100 units, and some rental units as well.

    I drove by another development on Mt. Pleasant (I believe in Livingston). I didn’t get a chance to see who the builder was, but I believe there were some 200 units in that development.

    I stopped in to the Toll Bros development in Warren county on Saturday. That’s a development of some 22 estate homes, I believe they start in the 650s and go upwards from there.

    Oh, and thanks for the congrats.


  8. I went to 4 open houses yestarday:
    1 in Livingston
    2 in West Orange
    1 in Caldwell

    Prices are still as high as ever, though a couple of them had some minor 1-3% reductions. But there were definitely a lot fewer visitors.

    At Livingston, I was only the third visitor, and the previous two were local town residents; the house was already empty (seller motivated) but priced about $100K too high IMHO.

    In West Orange (#1), the house was also empty (and on market for several weeks). There was a young couple there and some other guy from across the street who wanted me to see his house (also on market).

    In West Orange (#2), this was the best of the 4 in terms of upgrades, but too close to the noise of I-280. Again, I was there over 10 minutes, and no one else showed up. When I left, I thought the agent was going to shake my hand forever.

    Finally, Caldwell…another ripoff. This was a cottage for well over $500K. There were a couple of visitors when I arrived, but no one else came in the 10 minutes I spent there.

    So things have definitely slowed down in the last couple of weeks.

  9. NJGal says:

    Ok, I almost passed out when I saw the lowball in Maplewood…having lost out on a place there myself (someone bid 30K over ask, low for the area at the time) I am literally floored. I thought that was the most bubbly town ever considering the schools and location. To me, that’s a real sign of a market shift.

    Two months ago, didn’t someone post a house that went for 100K over ask? I’d be interested if those who get the “good” MLS listings (where they show asking and sale prices) to keep up with that.

    I like the new site, by the way.

  10. grim says:

    What’s the fascination with Maplewood? I really don’t understand it. Although I live in Passaic County, I spend a considerable amount of time in Essex County, and I can’t fathom why. I can understand Glen Ridge, Upper Montclair, Essex Fells and the nice sections of the Caldwells, and Millburn. Cedar Grove around the reservoir is nice, and Verona near the park is a great section. I can even understand some of the exclusive sections of the Oranges.. But Maplewood? You got me there.

    Oh, by the way, you guys (and gals) wouldn’t believe the number of phone calls I received yesterday by people trying to sell me their homes. Two of those people obviously never read this blog, but simply read the first paragraph of the article, and must have thought I was a sucker.

    Caveat Emptor!

  11. grim,

    would you care to post the link to the ledger?

    I didn’t have the pleasure of reading an article where you were mentioned.


  12. grim says:

    Hey InvestorDavid, I was wondering where you disappeared to the other day..

    The link is:

    Housing Boom’s final hurrah

    Oh, and NJGal, I did add that maplewood lowball in just for you. I always keep an eye out for lowballs or price drops in the towns readers are interested in.


  13. NJGal says:

    I’m with you – my fascination with Maplewood is over. While the homes are generally cute and the town is physically attractive, the schools are crap, the commute is no better than in other NJ towns and it’s borders Irvington. With terrible property taxes. Eew.

    We were only looking there because I had a friend who lived there and the houses were priced much lower than the areas where my husband and I grew up in NY. We figured, great, low priced home ownership and then we can move in 5 years. Didn’t happen, and now I am glad.

  14. Grim Ghost says:

    James — the Maplewood street near the Reservation is actually quite good. Lots of old mansions somewhat like the Montclair old mansions. Even some of the other houses and the downtown have their charm and the commute to the city is actually one of the best from the suburbs — after the Midtown Direct and the se. A lot better than Montclair. The Midtown Direct will get you into Penn Station in 40 minutes and there are trains throughout the day.

    But — property taxes are very high, the schools aren’t great.

  15. Grim Ghost says:

    The Green Brook listing looks like a flipper trying to dispose off a Pulte Homes “Top of the World” home. He probably figured to flip it for a lot more, but that didn’t happen.

    This area is actually very nicely located besides the park with a great view. Green Brook taxes are quite low as well, but their grade and middle schools aren’t great. The high school is shared with Warren, Watchung etc. and is very good.

    I do need to buy for personal reasons in the next few months and I would like to lowball. My wife however, has been discouraging me from doing that, saying that we might anger a buyer enough that he wouldn’t make a counteroffer if we do that. I personally think its worth making a lowball offer on houses you think are OK to good but not great because even if you miss it, no big deal

  16. The whole maplewood things drives me crazy. They school system was just on the news for all the racial problems they are having int he highschool, especially black on white crimes and kids getting beat up in the hallways. it is in interesting demographic because there are really rich kids whose parents work in manhatten and live there due to the train, and then other kids who just moved from newark and the oranges. I grew up in springfield, and we used to call it Maplehood because we know that was where to go to get liquor and drugs. it is def not a town i would choose to move to, because in my opinion in 20+ years it is going to be the next hillside.

  17. grim says:

    grim ghost,

    No flipper on that Green Brook property, the owner and seller was Pulte.


  18. Gary says:


    I don’t get the fascination with Maplewood either. Parts of it are beautiful but then there’s parts bordering Irvington that are..um..slightly less desirable. :) It sounds like we’re neighbors. I live very close to Garrett Mountain. Well, here’s a toast to a major league crash. Great site, keep it up!

  19. Grim Ghost says:

    James — thats interesting because Pulte is still selling homes in that development. Why would they put a home on the MLS for a discount ? Maybe a buyer backed out and the house was already partly built so they put it on the market for a lower price …

    Or maybe they’re finding it hard to sell houses and are willing to take discounts ?

  20. grim says:

    I was surprised to see that it was Pulte as well. Perhaps it might have been the model?

    I did look at a house in Glen Ridge a few weeks back, 43 Ridgewood Ave to be more specific. Asking was 599, the seller bought the home around May for 549. A bit overpriced, but the home had some real character (i.e. not another boring passaic county cape) and a new kitchen.

    But for that price, I’d rather not be living on the ‘bad side’ of town..


  21. Chip says:

    James — this “Lowball” post is a great idea. Will look forward to it each week.

    I think it will be interesting to see how the percentage of lowball acceptance might change in the next few years, until the market bottoms.

    I want to buy a house in an area that is already a lot cheaper than the one in which I cashed out, so I can pay cash. But, since I know that prices everywhere are going to be falling, and since I am in a very comfortable rental for the duration, I’ll probably wait until a very acceptable, though not perfect, house with a very desperate owner who has “enough” equity, comes on the market and then to offer 25% less. The worst that can happen is the owner is insulted, but at least they know what their new minimum is. I figure that I will have shared with him, 50-50, the plausible risk that the home could drop by 50% before it’s over.

  22. grim says:


    Thanks, I keep trying to come up with new weekly features to fill up the quiet spots when it seems like nothing is going on. The economics calendar will likely result in many new posts in the next few weeks. I know people check the site at least once a day looking for updates, so I want to keep the content fresh.

    If anyone has any requests or suggestions, lets hear them!


  23. Anonymous says:

    Recently moved to Upper Montclair, paid cash ($46k under inflated asking price) from proceeds of sale in Brooklyn to chump who thinks he’s got it made, love it here, daughter’s school across the street, community pool & tennis courts along with Iris gardens around the corner, high taxes ($12,500, but no mortgage) are fair tradeoff compared to shit school system, dirty streets, asshole neighbors, & even bigger greedy asshole developers building right next door to my property in Brooklyn. Maplewood?? Why bother. Self important white folks trying to feel good about their choice to live there and then subject their kids to ghetto fabulous schools?!?FUHGETABOUTIT!! You get only one chance to raise your kids. Don’t put your kumbaya feel-good aspirations ahead of their physical and mental well-being.

  24. Anonymous says:

    The flip side of lowballers are morons who overpay. Most would have received their come-uppance, but just like morons who bought the theglobe.com, they have been helped by a rising market. But that may not last much longer.

    In a Union County subdivision I know, one house went for around 745K 3 months back. Another was listed for $829 K (almost similar, sightly better view, but unifinished basement). After 2-3 months, it seems to have gone into contract now. I’m hoping thats a lowballer (I think that house could be had for 750K max), but I think it might be another overpaying moron.

  25. grim says:

    I feel a new weekly section coming, Overpaid!

    Well, I’ve got the same data I use to do Lowball! right in front of me, so I have all the Overpaid! data right here.

    This week we had:

    Asking 175,000
    Sold 231,112

    Berkeley Heights
    Asking 554,000
    Sold 656,000

    Asking 799,000
    Sold 944,500

    Asking 849,000
    Sold 999,999

    They aren’t at all rare, but they are most certainly getting there, I haven’t looked at any of these properties, but I have a feeling many of them were underpriced to encourage bidding wars, common in those areas.


  26. Grim Ghost says:

    James — I mentioned the Berkeley Heights place before in the blog comments. I still think its a typo, because the place was originally listed for $580K or something (I saw it at an open house), then fell to $554K after a couple of months. I think thats a typo and its meant to be $556 K.The house is a ranch from the 1950s, 3 bed/2bath, unfinished basement. In the $656K range, there are much nicer and larger houses in Berkeley Heights (including a larger house 4 bd/2bath house on a nearby street that was pulled after 4 months for lack of bids).

    We’ll know when the county data comes out whether its a typo or not.

    FYI — another listing came on the market 2 weeks back in almost exactly the same area, in the same street (almost exactly the same type of house, but with an extra half bath, more property — 0.76 acre to 0.33 in the old place). This one came on at $570K. If someone actually bought the other place at $656 K, that was a big mistake.

  27. grim says:

    I remember that one now, I didn’t really link the two. If it was an error I’d hope to see it corrected by now, but it’s still showing 656 as the SP..

    I can’t see how that place is worth it at all, an as-is property? Only .32 acre? That better be the nicest lot in town..


  28. Anonymous says:


    The development you passed on Mt. Pleasant Avenue actually falls into West Orange (bordering Livingston).
    The name of the development will be Bel Air (just as the adjacent development in Livingston is called, although those are long completed single family homes by a different developer).
    There will be like 250 (?280) luxury townhomes with a clubhouse, to be built by Matzel and Mumford (a subsidiary of Khov.)

  29. Anonymous says:

    Realize, though, that these lowball selling prices are probably still higher than what these places would have sold for a year ago.

  30. grim says:

    Thanks for the info on the West Orange development, I’ve been trying to put together a list of all the large scale developments in progress in Northern NJ.


  31. Anonymous says:

    Somebody actually bought a house in Irvington? Over asking price? Scary.
    What were they thinking? Must have been a crack dealer with a fat wallet.

    In another year or so there will be pages or foreclosures and fire sales just like 1990. I can’t imaging having a 700k mortgage and a 20k property tax bill hanging over my head.

    Essex taxes are enough to make you want to move to Fairfield County CT.

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