Long Island homebuyers swung into action last month, driving up prices and pending sales after a nearly 12-week ban on in-person showings by real estate agents due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In Suffolk County, pending sales jumped by 20.4% last month compared with the previous June, OneKey MLS, the multiple listing service that includes Long Island, reported Thursday. In Nassau County, the number of homes going into contract ticked up by 0.8% year-over-year.
However, the number of closed sales plummeted year-over-year by 38.5% in Nassau and 29% in Suffolk. That sharp decline comes after New York prohibited real estate agents from doing in-person work from March 22 until June 10, to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The median closed sale price made year-over-year gains last month, rising by 3% to $565,000 in Nassau, and by 6.2% to $430,000 in Suffolk, OneKey reported. For homes that went into contract last month, OneKey reported that the median price was $580,000 in Nassau, an annual increase of 5.4%, and $454,370 in Suffolk, up 12.2% over the previous June.
Brokers said the usual spring burst of home contract signings was delayed until June, after more than two months of sluggish sales. , From April through June, the number of pending sales fell by 44% in Nassau and 31% in Suffolk, compared with the same three-month period in 2019, listing service figures show.
When the shutdown began on March 22, “it was incredibly slow, absolutely dead stop,” said Kimberly Bancroft, a real estate agent with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in Locust Valley. Eventually, agents and buyers adjusted to virtual showings, and some properties did change hands based on video tours, “but those weren’t plentiful,” she said.
Now, she said, “it’s feverishly busy.” Bancroft said she has eight Gold Coast homes under contract at prices ranging from $600,000 to $4.2 million, and six of those are going to buyers from New York City seeking spacious suburban houses. “The number one question that I’m asked is, ‘does the property have a pool?’” she said.
A shortage of listings also is pushing up prices, said Oakar Reinstein, a real estate agent with Realty Connect USA in Hauppauge who sells homes in Nassau and Suffolk. The number of homes for sale dropped year-over-year by about 14% in Nassau and 24% in Suffolk, listing service figures show.
“It’s like toilet paper running out,” Reinstein said. “There is no supply and too much demand. Prices are being driven through the roof.”
In addition, record-low mortgage rates are making it easier for homeowners to trade up, he said. The average rate fell to 2.98% last week, the lowest since at least 1971, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday.
Long Island homeowners “are cashing in on their homes and moving into something bigger and better at a much lower interest rate,” he said. Reinstein said he has not seen a significant increase in buyers coming from New York City: “I still have buyers from Queens, but that’s normal.”