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LI home prices rise as listings dwindle, MLS report says

A house is listed for sale on Jan.

A house is listed for sale on Jan. 26, 2016. Credit: AP / John Bazemore

Long Island’s dwindling supply of homes for sale drove up housing prices last month.

In Suffolk County, the median sales price increased by 6.5 percent compared with the previous August, to $375,000, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Thursday. Nassau County homes traded for a median price of $515,000, up 6.2 percent from a year earlier.

There were 7,345 homes listed for sale in Suffolk last month, down 15 percent from the previous August. In Nassau, buyers had 5,008 listings to choose from, an annual decline of 11.6 percent.

With so few homes on the market, buyers are “chasing” the most desirable properties, especially those in the $300,000 to $400,000 range, said Jean-Paul Commisso, managing broker with Cornerstone Real Estate Services in Smithtown.

“It’s kind of the perfect storm — the rates are still low and the prices are appreciating a little bit slowly and that’s what you want,” he said.

Interest rates for a 30-year mortgage averaged 3.78 percent this week, up 0.28 points from a year ago but still near historic lows, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday.

The scarcity of new home construction in the wake of the housing crash is one reason for the low inventory, Commisso said. Another is that many homeowners have seen little to no growth in the value of their properties, so they are not inclined to sell, he said.

“If you bought your house between 2004 and now, you’re probably not making that much of a gain on it; if anything you’re breaking even on it,” he said.

In both counties, the number of sales dipped by less than 1 percent in August compared with a year earlier, the listing service said. However, in an indication that home buyers remain active, the number of contract signings grew year-over-year by 9 percent in Suffolk and 5 percent in Nassau.

Nearly five years after Sandy devastated the South Shore, buyers are eager to snap up homes on the water, though it remains to be seen whether the much-publicized devastation caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma will blunt that demand, said Patricia McDonnell, owner of Lido Beach Realty.

“I see the market coming back, where people do not seem to fear living near the water,” she said. “If the homes have been raised, they have the advantage of having more reasonable flood insurance.”

Some buyers even see the region as an alternative to the Hamptons, she said. “More and more people are getting tired of going out East and contending with the traffic,” she said.

And like the rest of the Island, the South Shore has a scarcity of listings, she said. In the wake of Sandy, many homeowners opted to sell, but those who remained are not interested in selling, she said: “People seem to be very happy with where they’re living.”

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