LI home sales disrupted by Sandy

Pending sales on Long Island dropped to 1,257

Pending sales on Long Island dropped to 1,257 in November, a 13.7 percent decline from 2011. (Credit: Getty Images)

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Fewer Long Island homes went into contract last month compared to a year earlier as superstorm Sandy disrupted the residential market, the Multiple Listing Service reported Wednesday.

Pending sales dropped to 1,257 in November, a 13.7 percent decline from 2011. Closings slid as well, falling to 1,349 compared to 1,409, a year-over-year decline of 4.3 percent. Pending sales fell further in hard-hit Nassau -- down 19.1 percent -- than in Suffolk, where they dropped 8.7 percent.

"We had pretty close to three weeks of fighting for gasoline and just trying to get electric restored to properties," said Todd Yovino, broker-owner of Hauppauge-based Island Advantage Realty Llc. "People really weren't looking on the home shopping side."

The supply of homes has fallen. In November, 17,481 homes were on the market, compared to 21,550 a year earlier.

The median closing price edged up in both counties compared to last year, increasing 5.8 percent to $400,000 in Nassau and 1.1 percent to $313,500 in Suffolk. Pending sales prices dipped 1.3 percent in Suffolk and were unchanged in Nassau. Multiple Listing Service data may not include all sales on the East End, especially for very high-priced homes.

Prospective home buyers are asking lots of questions about flood damage and repairs, real estate brokers said.

Tina Canaris, associate realtor for Re/Max Hearthstone in Merrick, said that homes in flood zones that didn't have water damage could command higher prices than before the storm.

"If they didn't have damage, people will love it," Canaris said. "If they had high elevation, it's a very good selling point . . . some of them might wind up selling better."

Sellers of damaged homes should have mold testing done and be able to document repairs such as wallboard replacement, Canaris said.

Some owners of damaged houses have decided to cut their losses and sell their property as is, even at a loss.

"In today's climate, you're hard pressed to even find a contractor that's not busy," Yovino said. "What they're looking to do is put properties up [for sale] . . . take a haircut on the price and then keep the insurance proceeds and move on."

Richard Guardino Jr., dean of the Wilbur F. Breslin Center for Real Estate Studies at Hofstra University, said the harder hit communities will take longer to come back but that people are attached to their homes and the waterfront.

"Over the long term it will certainly balance out," Guardino said. "Things will start to pick up in the spring."

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