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LI home prices rise in December despite lower sales volume

Nassau County's median home price in December was

Nassau County's median home price in December was $431,250, a 5.4 percent increase compared to the same period a year earlier, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Tuesday. Photo Credit: AP

Long Island home prices climbed last month, despite reduced sales volume and a somewhat larger number of homes on the market.

In Nassau County, the median home price in December was $431,250, a 5.4 percent increase compared to the same period a year earlier, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Tuesday. In Suffolk County, the median home price ticked up by 1.7 percent to $312,600.

The number of closed home sales fell year-over-year by almost 8 percent in Nassau, and by 10 percent in Suffolk.

Comparing 2014 sales to the previous year can be deceiving, since 2013 was unusually busy -- and prices artificially low, in some cases -- in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, which hit the Island on Oct. 29, 2012, some real estate experts said.

In Sandy-ravaged communities, some homeowners decided to sell their flooded homes in "as-is" condition in 2013 and buy properties further inland, said Patricia Nugent, a broker with Marashinsky & Nugent Realty in Rockville Centre.

"They wanted a house that didn't have to have work, [and] they didn't want to be in a flood zone," Nugent said.

In contrast to the lower number of actual home sales last month, the volume of newly signed sales contracts jumped by 15.7 percent in Nassau and almost 11 percent in Suffolk, compared with the same period in 2013.

Home buyers are expressing increased confidence about the stability of their careers, said Bonnie Williamson, an associate broker at Daniel Gale Sotheby's in Huntington. "Having security in your job is what gives you courage to buy a house."

However, the Huntington market appears to be busiest in the midrange -- roughly $500,000 to $800,000 -- and slowest above $2 million, Williamson said.

Historically low interest rates are giving a boost to the real estate market, especially for homes priced between $350,000 and $500,000, said Edward Freeberg, a sales agent with Century 21 Kin Realty in West Hempstead.

"Interest rates may start to climb, and I think buyers have that in the back of their mind, that they want to get in and buy now," Freeberg said.

Throughout the Island, there were 14,425 homes listed for sale last month, up almost 5 percent compared to the previous December.

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