Brokers foresee Sandy impact on home sales

Superstorm Sandy damaged several homes at the end

Superstorm Sandy damaged several homes at the end of Clocks Boulevard, including one home that was for sale. (Nov. 6 2012) Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

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Long Island home sales were largely unscathed by Sandy in October, since the superstorm struck so late in the month, but brokers say activity and prices in some cases are likely to suffer this month and next, and perhaps longer.

Suffolk County home sales slowed last month even as activity picked up in Nassau County, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported yesterday. The superstorm struck on Oct. 29.

In Suffolk County, 766 homes changed hands in October, a drop of 4.6 percent compared to the same month in 2011. Nassau County home sales jumped by 7.7 percent year over year, to 772.

Prices jumped in both counties. Last month the median sale price in Suffolk rose by 6.1 percent, year over year, to $320,000, while the median in Nassau was $398,250, 4 percent more than the previous October.

Even though the market has been rebounding, the impact of the Oct. 29 storm "is going to skew the numbers," said Joe Moshé, broker/owner of Plainview-based Charles Rutenberg Realty.

If homeowners who owe more than their home's value decide to get rid of their storm-damaged homes in bank-approved short sales, those homes could sell at average discounts of up to 20 percent, Moshé said. Those short sales will cause prices to remain steady or fall slightly throughout the market, he said.

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However, homes that escaped the storm's wrath could actually see prices rise, as more buyers compete for those properties, he said.

Long Island's economy could get a post-Sandy boost as homeowners collect checks from insurance companies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and as more workers get hired to help rebuild, said Cynthia McKenna, managing broker at Keller Williams Realty in Hauppauge.

"It's devastating for the people that got hurt, but for the general economy it's going to be a pretty good thing for some people," she said.

The number of homes on the market dropped, year over year, in both counties. Nassau home sellers listed 7,859 properties last month, 19 percent fewer than in October 2011. It would take more than 10 months to sell all those homes at the current pace of sales, down from last October's 12-month supply of homes. A healthy real estate market has about a six-month supply, brokers say.

In Suffolk there were 10,831 homes listed in October, a 15.5 percent drop compared to the same period last year. That was a 14-month supply of homes, down from a nearly 18-month supply in October 2011.

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