More Long Island homes were sold in the past three months than in the same period last year, the first time that's happened in more than a year, according to third-quarter reports due out Thursday.

The 6,062 third-quarter sales added up to a 7.3 percent jump over the 5,647 deals a year ago and a 42 percent hike compared with the preceding quarter, according to data from Manhattan-based Miller Samuel appraiser in reports commissioned by Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

Jonathan Miller, head of the appraisal firm, and real estate veterans Wednesday saw several factors beefing up the housing market: more stability on Wall Street, a big factor in Hamptons sales; budding consumer confidence; a first-time home buyers tax credit; historically low mortgage rates; and more affordable listing prices.

However, Miller cautioned: "The surge, while an important sign, is sort of a catch-up. We had low activity prior to that, and this is simply a release."

Lately, sales figures have become more important than median closing prices in forecasting the housing market's direction. If more and more homes sell in the next few quarters, that lowers inventory, which then drives up prices.

In the past three months, Long Island median closing prices began recovering from the preceding quarter, which showed some of the sharpest drops in years, Miller's data show.

The median for Nassau and western Suffolk was $375,000, a 9.6 percent drop from the $415,000 a year ago but a 4.2 percent increase from the $360,000 in the preceding quarter, according to the third-quarter reports. For the Hamptons and North Fork, the $700,000 median was a 4 percent drop from the $729,000 a year ago but a 2.9 percent uptick from the preceding quarter's $680,000, figures show.

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Despite recent talk about Wall Street bonuses returning to record levels, Jay Flagg, senior managing director at Prudential's Southampton office, said that hasn't had much impact in Hamptons deals.

Flagg said he's seen the Hamptons-buying pool change from being dominated by investment bankers to consultants, investors and celebrities, all drawn to lower prices.

"Our very high end is still not robust at this point," he said. I think I can count on two hands the number of sales in Southampton Village over $5 million - two hands and one foot probably," Flagg said. "In 2007, we probably had two or three a month of $5 million and above."