Long Island home prices got a boost last month, despite sluggish sales.
Nassau County homes sold for a median price of $428,000 in November, up 3.1 percent from a year earlier, according to a report Friday by the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island. The number of homes sold in Nassau fell by 14 percent from a year earlier, to 813.
In Suffolk County, homes sold for a median price of $325,000 last month, a 2.9 percent year-over-year gain. There were 961 home sales, down 0.7 percent from the previous November.
Home prices are making slow but steady gains, in part due to near-record-low mortgage interest rates, said Liz Wallace, broker and owner of Century 21 Sherlock Homes in Rockville Centre. "As long as the rates stay down, you're going to see people making a move," she said.
The average interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.93 percent this week, down 0.49 percentage points compared to a year earlier, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which buy more than half of new mortgages and package them into securities, announced this month that more buyers -- particularly those purchasing for the first time, and those with low or moderate incomes -- will be able to get mortgages with down payments of as little as 3 percent. Under previous rules, the minimum was 5 percent.
That change is likely to help first-time home buyers, and it will also enable more established homeowners to sell their properties and move up to bigger houses, Wallace said.
"Anything they can do to make getting a loan easier for people will only help," she said.
The number of homes on the market rose by 4.3 percent year over year across the Island, to 16,049. It would take 10 months in Suffolk and nearly eight months in Nassau to sell all listed homes at the current pace of sales. A balanced real estate market has a six- to eight-month supply of homes, according to brokers.