Long Island's housing market was sluggish last month, with prices rising year over year in Nassau County but falling in Suffolk, and sales volume down across the board.
Nassau County homes sold for a median price of $410,000 in May, up 5.7 percent from a year before, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Friday. The median home price in Suffolk County was $304,000, a year-over-year decline of 3.5 percent.
In both counties the number of home sales fell last month, the listing service reported. In Nassau, 768 homes changed hands, an annual drop of 13.3 percent. There were 919 home sales in Suffolk, 11.5 percent fewer than the same period in 2013. Last spring, home sales had ticked up as some owners of storm-ravaged homes unloaded their properties rather than rebuild.
The market is bustling with eager home buyers, said Frank Pignataro, co-owner of Sailing Home Realty in Baldwin.
"Houses that are coming on the market -- if they're priced fairly they're selling and they're selling quickly," he said.
However, rising flood insurance costs are putting a damper on some sales in coastal areas. "For some people, they just can't afford that extra payment," he said.
Buyers of vacation homes in the $500,000 to $1 million range are "back with a vengeance," and demand is also strong for new homes, said Deborah Galligan, owner of Marylou Swan Realty in East Patchogue.
The weakest area is "trade-up homes" in the $400,000 to $600,000 range, since high property taxes are prompting some families and retirees to move to the Carolinas and Florida instead of buying their next home on the Island, Galligan said.
In a shift that could benefit buyers, the number of homes listed for sale rose last month, according to the listing service. There were 7,554 listings in Nassau, 3 percent more than a year earlier, and 10,919 in Suffolk, an annual gain of 8.3 percent.
Some brokers have predicted a surge in pending sales this spring, since winter storms discouraged many would-be home shoppers. However, last month the number of Island homes going into contract dropped by 7.2 percent year-over-year, to 2,446.