A scarce supply of homes for sale drove prices up sharply in Nassau County last month and more modestly in Suffolk.
The median price in Nassau for a closed home sale was $511,000 in September, up 9.9 percent from a year earlier, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Tuesday.
In Suffolk, homes sold for a median price of $360,000, a 3.2 percent increase from the previous September.
A shortage of homes for sale continues to force buyers into bidding wars that boost prices, real estate agents said. There were 12,098 homes listed last month on Long Island, down 12 percent from a year earlier.
If a home is priced appropriately and in decent shape, “it immediately gets sold,” said Nick Sakalis, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Syosset. “What’s left . . . is the houses that are overpriced, homes that have some type of issue or other homes that are not in a big buyer pool. If it’s a high-end home, you just don’t have that many buyers looking.”
The number of sales fell by 11.5 percent in Nassau and rose by 4.9 percent in Suffolk, compared with the year-ago period. Those trends appear likely to continue, with the number of homes going into contract last month falling annually by 5.7 percent in Nassau and rising year-over-year by 8.1 percent in Suffolk.
Buyers are shifting to Suffolk in search of more affordable options, Sakalis said.
The rising prices have not yet drawn enough sellers into the market to meet demand.
In some cases, homeowners refrain from listing their homes — or pull them off the market — because they do not have enough equity to purchase another home on the Island, said Andy Yakubovsky, manager of Century 21 American Homes in Oceanside.
“We’ve lost transactions where people have gone into contract and they can’t find a house and they have to back out,” he said.
Of homes with mortgages on Long Island, 5.5 percent — more than 31,000 — were “underwater” in the second quarter, meaning the home values were lower than the mortgages, according to the most recent report by the California-based data company CoreLogic. Another 1.2 percent had less than 5 percent equity.
What’s more, the damage caused by Hurricane Irma in Florida has prompted some Long Islanders to reconsider plans to move to that state, Yakubovsky said. Those homeowners may linger on the Island a little longer while they decide whether to move to North or South Carolina instead, he said.
Even so, he said, “that’s going to be a short-term thing . . . eventually, people are going to be moving.”