LI home sales increase sharply in July

The July home purchase spurt also helped boost

The July home purchase spurt also helped boost median sale prices in Suffolk and Nassau. This home on Steers Avenue in Northport was under contract this past month. (July 25, 2012) (Credit: Steve Pfost)

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Jill Zarin, one of the stars of the Real LI Blog

Long Island home sales picked up sharply in July, rising 18 percent in Suffolk County and 6 percent in Nassau County, according to a report released Tuesday.

As more homes changed hands, prices rose in Suffolk but fell a bit in Nassau, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported.

In Suffolk County, 969 homes were sold last month, according to the listing service. The median sale price was $325,000, an increase of 3.2 percent compared to a year earlier.

"All the metrics are showing that the market is healing, as long as interest rates stay low," said Rich Halloran, vice president of Coldwell Banker in Babylon.

There were 11,920 homes on the market in Suffolk County, just over a year's supply. Last July, there were 13,803 homes for sale, a nearly 17-month supply.

A healthy real estate market has a six- to eight-month supply, according to brokers.

The long-predicted flood of foreclosures does not appear to be hitting the Island, since banks are turning to short sales instead, said Cynthia McKenna, managing broker at Keller Williams Realty in Hauppauge.

Short sales -- in which homeowners try to sell for less than they owe on their mortgage -- typically fetch lower prices than non-distressed homes. However, foreclosed homes sell for even greater discounts.

In Nassau County there were 918 home sales in July. The median price was $407,000, a decrease of 1.7 percent compared to the previous July. In a sign that sales could pick up more in a few months, Nassau home buyers signed 1,049 contracts in July, a nearly 28 percent jump compared to a year earlier.

Nassau's dramatic rise in pending sales is "a very encouraging sight," said Andy Yakubovsky, manager at Century 21 Prevete Bastone in Massapequa. However, he said, "I wouldn't paint the whole county with that same brush."

In Elmont, for instance, many pending sales are short sales, and they might not all make it to closing, since banks balk at approving sale prices they consider too low, Yakubovsky said.

There were 8,945 homes for sale last month in Nassau County, a nearly 10-month supply. By contrast, a year ago there were 10,526 homes on the market, more than a year's supply.

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