Long Island’s real estate boom is still going strong.
Suffolk County homes sold for a median price of $475,000 last month, an 18% gain compared with the previous February, and in Nassau County the median home price jumped annually by 14%, to $600,000, the OneKey MLS multiple listing service reported Tuesday.
The median price of homes that went into contract last month made year-over-year gains of almost 20% in Suffolk and 17% in Nassau, the listing service reported.
Low mortgage rates and high demand are driving up prices, said Amy Girimonti, broker with Prime Properties Long Island in Huntington. "There’s definitely bidding wars in most cases, lines outside of open houses," she said. "Buyers are having to offer way over the asking price to be competitive in the current market."
The average mortgage rate was 3.05% last week, down 0.31 percentage points from a year earlier, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported.
The number of homes listed for sale plunged by nearly 49% in Suffolk and 33% in Nassau, compared with the previous February, listing service figures show.
"It just really seems like people are on hold and not putting their homes on the market," whether due to fears of exposure to COVID-19 or because they do not yet know whether they can continue to work remotely for the foreseeable future, which will factor into their decisions about where to live, said Jim Speer, CEO of OneKey MLS.
At last month’s pace of pending sales, it would take just over two months to sell all the homes listed in Suffolk and 2.8 months in Nassau. Brokers say a balanced market has a six- to eight-month supply of homes.
Despite the scarce supply of listings, the housing market remained busy last month. In Suffolk County, the number of home sales increased by 22% and pending sales jumped by 19%, compared with the previous February. In Nassau County, home sales activity made year-over-year gains of 21% and the number of homes going into contract rose by 16% annually, OneKey MLS said.
Girimonti said she hopes the warmer spring weather and increasing vaccination rates will prompt more homeowners to put their properties on the market.
For buyers, she said, "It’s become very challenging for them to actually find anything that meets their criteria."
Earlier this month, the brokerage Douglas Elliman and the appraisal company Miller Samuel reported a different trend, with the number of pending sales leveling off in February compared with a year earlier.
According to OneKey and Miller Samuel, the difference is the result of variations in how the information was gathered.
The earlier report by Miller Samuel included pending sales that were recorded through the end of February. Also, Newsday’s article on the leveling off of pending transactions reflected sales of single-family homes in Nassau and western Suffolk, outside of the East End. Miller Samuel publishes separate data on East End sales. Newsday's article on the report noted that in February, pending sales skyrocketed year-over-year by 72% in the Hamptons and grew by 14% on the North Fork.
By contrast, the OneKey MLS report released Tuesday includes pending sales that went into contract in February and were recorded through March 8, when OneKey compiled the information. The additional contract signings that occurred in February – but were recorded in early March – affected the final tally. Also, the OneKey report reflects pending sales of single-family homes, co-ops and condos throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties, including the dramatic increase in sales on the East End.
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