From the NY Times:
PRETTY much as in any suburb around northern New Jersey, prices in the Forest Hill section of this city are down, the sales pace has slowed, and short sales and foreclosures have increased.
The intriguing part of that situation, of course, is that Forest Hill is not suburban. It is a highly unusual neighborhood in the state’s largest city, and one of its poorest.
Newark at large, real estate professionals say, has about 18 months’ worth of inventory on the market right now; last year, at some points, there was more than two years’ worth.
“But Forest Hill is not Newark,” said P. J. Calello of the Calello Agency, a family company that has owned and managed property in the neighborhood for 25 years. “It’s part of Newark, but not in the real estate sense.”
One house on Lake Street here, a seven-bedroom five-bath Georgian colonial built in 1920, sold for $849,900 last year, having gone into contract four months after it was listed. In May, the six-bedroom brick colonial at 514-516 Highland Avenue, priced in the high $400,000s, went into contract after just four weeks.
Other houses — especially those at the fringes of the state-designated historic district in Forest Hill, and those priced above $500,000 — took longer to sell, or did not sell at all, even after a year or more, multiple listings show.
“The point is not that this is what always happens,” said Kenneth M. Kroll, who bought the Lake Street house with his partner, David Johnstone, moving into Newark from Rutherford last fall. “But it does happen that bigger, more expensive homes still sell here. Even in a recession, or an economic malaise, or whatever we are calling it, this place is special.”
Chockablock with Victorian architectural gems that coexist in close proximity to midcentury ranches and aluminum-sided two-family houses, the neighborhood is not gated or marked off in any way; yet it has always stood apart.
“ ‘Where are we?’ people always seem to ask when they drift over from the cherry blossom festival in Branch Brook Park, or come through on a tour bus,” said Rolando Bobadilla, who moved to the neighborhood from Brooklyn with his wife and children.
Frederick P. H. Cooke, an architect who rents a place in Forest Hill and is looking to buy, agreed. “Most people don’t know the neighborhood exists,” he said, explaining that he had first become aware of it when he was renting in downtown Newark and joined a book club in Forest Hill.
Most of the mansions in Forest Hill, so called because it sits on a ridge between Branch Brook and the Passaic River, were built by factory owners and other prosperous citizens from 1870 to 1920.