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LI housing market remains strong for high-end homes, report shows

Across Long Island, buyers signed contracts on 2,990

Across Long Island, buyers signed contracts on 2,990 single-family homes in September, up 34% year-over-year for all price ranges, a report shows. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Long Island’s homebuying frenzy extended into September, with especially strong demand for the highest-priced homes, though the pace of sales has begun to level off.

Across Long Island, excluding the East End, buyers signed contracts on 2,990 single-family homes in September, up 34% year-over-year for all price ranges, the brokerage Douglas Elliman and the appraisal company Miller Samuel said in a report to be released Friday. The number of pending sales jumped by 130% for houses listed in the $600,000 to $999,999 range, and by 156% for $1-million-and-up houses, the report shows.

In the Hamptons, single-family-home pending sales spiked by 76% year-over-year, and more than tripled for homes listed for $2 million to $5 million. The same pattern — a large increase overall, with the biggest boost at the top — held true on the North Fork, where the number of single-family-home contract signings increased annually by 40%, and tripled in the $1-million-and-up market, with 22 pending sales compared with seven the previous September.

In a sign that the Long Island market is becoming a little less frenetic, the number of contract signings dropped last month compared with July and August. In July — the first full month of sales after the real estate market’s COVID-19 restrictions were lifted on June 10 — buyers in Nassau and western Suffolk signed 3,640 contracts, a 41% annual jump. In August, there were 3,317 pending sales, up 28% from a year earlier.

The Island’s housing market has benefited from a surge of buying activity that was delayed during the COVID-19 shutdown, along with low interest rates and an influx of buyers coming from New York City in search of more space, said Ann Conroy, CEO of Douglas Elliman’s Long Island division.

"It was a perfect recipe for buying a home in the suburbs," Conroy said. "Open houses are still packed, jammed. … If a home is properly priced, we're getting the same amount of bidding wars."

Some New York City residents are watching COVID-19 infection rates starting to climb in other areas, she said, and they "want their space in the country or their weekend home."

However, she said, the influx of city buyers "is starting to settle down."

The pent-up demand from the shutdown, which prohibited in-person showings by real estate agents from March until June 10, "has been largely satiated," and sales activity is starting to plateau on Long Island, said Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel.

Plus, he said, "continued uncertainty" about the upcoming presidential election and the pandemic could lead some buyers to put off decisions about purchases.

Miller predicted that a COVID-19 vaccine would largely halt the migration out of Manhattan, though he said companies are likely to continue to allow employees to work remotely, which should benefit suburban housing markets. "We’re at peak Zoom, where people are comfortable working at home and they don’t have to commute," he said. "The tether between work and home has become much longer."

That trend also has been a boon to the East End market, he said.

"The Hamptons remains a rocket ship," he said. The region, he said, "has benefited from the ‘co-primary’ concept of people looking at this luxury second home market as … a market where someone could imagine living or staying there for extended periods of time, and not necessarily in the summer. And that has really driven demand."

Annual increases in single-family contract signings on Long Island, excluding the East End

All price ranges: +34%

$600,000-$999,999: +130%

$1M+: +156%

Source: Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel

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