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Though year-over-year home prices still up, they are flattening, says CEO of OneKey

Bruno Merine, center, of Astoria views a home

Bruno Merine, center, of Astoria views a home for sale in Port Washington on Saturday. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

Long Island home prices remain elevated compared to last year, but appear to have hit a plateau, according to Jim Speer, chief executive of the multiple listing service OneKey MLS.

In Suffolk County, homes sold for a median price of $475,000 last month, up 18.8% compared to last January, according to a OneKey MLS report released Monday. In Nassau County, median home prices hit $600,500 last month, increasing 13.4% from January 2020.

Prices seem to have held steady since late summer, after limited inventory and strong demand for suburban properties drove up costs, Speer said. In Suffolk, the median home price decreased 1.04% from December to January, while the median pending price of $470,000 remained flat or fell during four of the past five months, the OneKey MLS report shows. In Nassau, the median home price decreased 0.74% from December to January. The median pending price grew 2.48% from December to $614,900 in January, but Speer said that figure has otherwise hovered around the same number since September.

"There's a limit to how much the buyers are willing to pay," Speer said. "Even though the interest rates are still so low, and there's a lot of demand … there's a limit."

The market has calmed down since the early days of the pandemic, but remains busy, according to Gale Keenan, associate real estate broker with Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty in Manhasset and Port Washington. The number of sales rose 10.7% and pending transactions grew 17.8% year-over-year in Suffolk; the volume of sales increased 21.9% and homes in contract jumped 35.8% year-over-year in Nassau, the OneKey MLS report shows.

Keenan noted that a four-bedroom, Cape-style home in Port Washington attracted close to 20 visitors since hitting the market Feb. 11, including at a Feb. 13 open house. Keenan said "strong" offers were made, but would not disclose how they compared to the $1.099 million listing price.

"I'll probably get three and possibly four [bids], so that is a change from the peak, where you might have gotten six or seven bids," Keenan said comparing her current listing's trajectory to what could have transpired four or five months ago, when bidding wars broke out as people sought properties in less dense communities. "That frenzy mentality is gone — that I-have-to-get-out-of-the-city."

But supply remains tight, with some owners holding off on selling because they are uncomfortable having prospective buyers in their home during a pandemic. The number of listings dropped 43.1% in Suffolk and 27.6% in Nassau year-over-year, according to the OneKey MLS report. At last month's rate of pending sales, it would take 2.47 months to sell all homes listed in Suffolk and 2.98 months to sell all those on the market in Nassau. A typical, balanced market has six- to eight-months of supply, according to brokers.

Owners concerned about getting top dollar for their homes will probably list houses now that prices aren't rising, Speer said. He expects supply will grow as Long Islanders are able to get vaccinated and watch the COVID-19 positivity rate fall.

"As people realize the selling prices are no longer going up, I think that will make some sellers put their houses on the market," Speer said.

An earlier version of this story inaccurately described the region broker Gale Keenan focuses on.

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