Long Island home prices jumped last month, as buyers faced a shrinking supply of houses for sale. (Credit: AP)
Long Island home prices jumped last month, continuing a trend of year-over-year gains, as buyers competed for a shrinking supply of houses for sale and memories of superstorm Sandy fade.
In Suffolk County, homes sold for a median price of $333,500 in October, a 5.9 percent rise from a year earlier, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Tuesday.
Nassau County homes traded for a median price of $435,000, an annual increase of 4.1 percent.
October marked the 12th straight month of year-over-year price gains in Suffolk and the 15th month in Nassau.
“As a result of low inventory there’s more competition, so prices are creeping up,” said Jerry O’Neill, owner of Coldwell Banker Harbor Light in Amity Harbor. A year ago, he said, “There was a bit of a backlog when the market was slow, but we’ve worked our way through that inventory.”
Low interest rates also give buyers a boost, O’Neill said. The average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.98 percent last week, down slightly from a year earlier, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported. Many economists believe rates could begin to creep up in the coming months.
October was a busy month for brokers in Nassau, where buyers closed on 1,119 sales, up 7.3 percent compared to the same period in 2014. In Suffolk, sales activity fell by 4.4 percent, with 1,251 homes changing hands.
Buyers are no longer shying away from homes in Sandy-affected areas, brokers said.
Three years after the devastating storm, buyers are once again eager to buy waterfront houses — as long as they come with low-priced flood insurance, O’Neill said. “We have good activity on houses that were repaired after Sandy and have stayed dry,” he said.
In Long Beach, too, buyers seem to have shed their fears of flooding, said Joyce Coletti, a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman in Long Beach. Coletti said the city’s real estate market is the busiest she’s seen it in her 16-year career.
In the west end, newly built homes with two floors of living space over a garage have replaced bungalows wrecked by the storm, Coletti said. The new homes — many with elevators — command prices in the $700,000s, she said.
“Everything is new because everyone had to fix their home after Sandy,” she said. “I have so many buyers, I have a waiting list.”
The number of homes listed for sale slipped in both counties, extending a downward trend.
There were 6,428 homes on the market, down more than 7 percent compared to the previous October, and less than a six-month supply of homes at the current pace of sales. It was Nassau’s ninth month of year-over-year declines in inventory.
Suffolk home buyers had 10,065 homes to choose from, almost 3 percent less than a year before and an eight-month supply. Suffolk’s supply of homes has been falling year-over-year since August.
A balanced real estate market has a six- to eight-month supply of homes, brokers say.