A handful of Long Island communities saw median home prices rise by 10% or more in the first half of 2023, while several others saw prices drop by that big a margin, according to community-level data shared with Newsday by appraisal firm Miller Samuel.
But most areas saw prices change relatively little after the pandemic sent home values soaring. Those towns maintained high home prices even as mortgage rates have risen to their highest levels in 20 years, making housing less affordable.
In the first half of 2023, the median home price increased or stayed flat in about half of 188 Long Island communities and declined in the other half, according to Newsday's analysis.
Overall, the median price of a home on Long Island was $589,000 in the first half, down 0.2% from last year, while the number of sales that closed fell 28.3% compared with the January-to-June period in 2022. Miller Samuel excludes the Hamptons and North Fork in its calculations for the rest of Long Island.
Most of the movements within towns were small. In nearly three-quarters of communities that had at least 50 sales, the median price among deals that closed from January to June increased or decreased by no more than 5% compared to the first half of 2022.
But some of those places experienced more significant changes. Rockville Centre, Lake Grove and Manorville each saw the median home price increase by at least 10% year over year, while Great Neck, West Islip and Dix Hills saw median prices fall by 10% or more. Newsday spoke with a dozen real estate agents in those areas to examine factors that might have affected price changes.
For Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel, the measure that explains the overall housing market best is the number of homes for sale. There are about 5,000 houses on the market across Long Island. For years, 15,000 to 20,000 homes was typical. The peak during the housing crisis in 2008 was about 32,000, according to data from OneKey MLS.
“Listing inventory is the metric of this current housing market,” Miller said. “It's the one to focus on because it's driving everything else. It's keeping prices elevated and it's restraining sales.”
Prices began to heat up again this summer. In August, the median price hit a record $730,000 in Nassau County and an all-time high $590,000 in Suffolk County, according to OneKey MLS. Meanwhile, the number of sales recorded in August was 19% lower than it had been during that month in 2022.
“Long Island is not an outlier,” Miller said. “It's essentially performing in the way that most suburban markets are performing in the U.S., which is higher prices generally and a severe decline in sales activity.”
Here's a look at what happened in six Long Island communities where home prices climbed or fell at least 10%:
Median price first half of 2023: $785,000
Median price first half of 2022: $663,500
Rockville Centre recorded the largest increase in median price in the first half among all Long Island communities that recorded at least 50 sales between January and June.
Real estate agents in the area said the village’s mix of a strong school district, a roughly 40-minute train ride into Manhattan and a downtown area lined with bars and restaurants attract homebuyers to the area.
“What makes a house in Rockville Centre attractive to buy at a higher price point — and easier to sell at a higher price point — a good part of it is the school district,” said Stephanie Feiner, an agent at Keller Williams Points North, who recently worked with a buyer who bought a $1.2 million home in the village. “It’s someplace where you can still work in the city but not feel like you have to leave two hours ahead of time to do it.”
Part of the reason Rockville Centre ascended to the top of the list has to do with the way the data is reported to include sales of single-family homes, condos and co-ops. Houses command higher prices in the village, and this year single-family home sales represented a larger percentage of all sales, at 70%. The shift in the mix of sales contributed to a higher median price.
Like much of Long Island, homes that hit the market tend to sell quickly, agents said. There were 43 listings on a recent Friday, including three condos, 17 co-op apartments and 23 houses. Prices ranged from $179,000 for a studio in a co-op building to $1.8 million for a four-bedroom, nearly 4,500-square-foot house.
“It’s been very tight. As soon as homes are coming on, they’re going.” said Elizabeth Byrne, a broker at Harms Real Estate and a 23-year resident of the village. “We’re a town of old homes. The majority of the homes were built between the 1920s and early 1950s. Regardless of their condition, they’re selling at higher price levels because of the lack of inventory.”
Charles Maione, an associate broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, said he’s started to notice a change now that mortgage rates have risen above 7% again. The added expense of interest “makes homes more expensive and carves buyers out” who can no longer afford to buy, he said.
Median price first half of 2023: $607,500
Median price first half of 2022: $526,000
When Amber and Nick DiNozzi put their three-bedroom house on the market in August for $469,999, they expected to have no problem finding a buyer, but they were still overwhelmed by the response.
“The sheer amount of people who wanted to see the home … I was like, ‘Wow,’” Amber DiNozzi said. “I remember as a kid going to houses with my parents at one point, and I don’t think it was ever like this.”
The couple, both 36, listed the house on a Monday and estimated about 80 people came through over the course of a week. By Saturday of that week, they had accepted an offer, which was more than $25,000 above the asking price.
The DiNozzis are looking to move to a larger home with their two children. The family had outgrown the house, which is about 880 square feet plus a basement. The couple bought it in 2016 for $305,000. They plan to rent a house that better meets their needs, including more space for their children and a potentially shorter commute to Manhattan for Nick, before looking to buy again in Suffolk County.
“That’s where we’re stepping out in faith,” Nick DiNozzi said. “It’s definitely not ideal. Do we want to just settle and stay in a house that’s not working for us and meeting our needs just because we’re afraid or nervous that house prices or mortgage rates are going to go up too high? … I think we both have the peace knowing this is what’s going to be the best for us. If anything, it’s going to be an adventure.”
Bryan Karp, an associate broker at Coldwell Banker American Homes who listed the DiNozzis’ house, said he can remember when just a few years ago, there were 80 houses on the market in Lake Grove. In one recent search, there were just 22.
“In Lake Grove there is rarely ever new construction,” Karp said. “When there’s the opportunity of an all-fixed-up house or a house that’s been renovated, people jump toward it.”
The village benefits from its proximity to one of the Island’s largest employers in Stony Brook University and its hospital as well as highways and the Ronkonkoma station of the Long Island Rail Road. A new Wegmans supermarket is expected to open next year at the corner of Middle Country Road and Moriches Road.
Median price first half of 2023: $560,000
Median price first half of 2022: $490,000
When people choose Manorville, they’re typically looking for serenity and larger properties that sell for a fraction of what they would command either farther west in Nassau County or in the Hamptons, said Dawn Jordan, a real estate agent at First Hampton International Realty in Westhampton Beach.
Jordan said she sees home prices rising, particularly among lower-to-median priced homes “because the buyer pool is so large.”
The rise of remote work has helped boost the market in Manorville, which sits to the west of the Long Island Central Pine Barrens and is home to Waterdrinker Family Farm & Garden.
The area was able to provide more of what buyers were looking for during the pandemic. “They wanted bigger homes, they wanted property, they wanted a pool [and] an office,” said Jordan, who has lived in Manorville for 24 years.
Buyers still have little leverage to ask sellers to make minor repairs because homeowners often have multiple offers to choose from.
“It’s tough on buyers,” Jordan said. "They need to understand when they go in you can’t be asking for little things to be done. You just have to move forward and take on the responsibility yourself to fix minor things.”
Median price first half of 2023: $685,000
Median price first half of 2022: $820,000
Great Neck saw the steepest decline in median price among Long Island communities with at least 50 sales, but the factors leading to that decline are tied, in part, to the way data is collected.
First, home sales data for Great Neck, as provided by Miller Samuel, includes all the villages in the broader Great Neck area. That combines sales of luxury homes in Kings Point village and Great Neck village with co-op apartments sold in Great Neck Plaza near the Long Island Rail Road station.
In addition, sales of less expensive co-ops and condos made up the majority of transactions in the Great Neck area during the first half of the year, pushing the median price lower.
When isolating only the 73 single-family home sales, the median price rose by 1% to about $1.4 million. The median price among 83 co-op sales rose 7.8% to $365,000. The area's price decline was tied to the shift in the mix of properties sold.
Edna Mashaal, a real estate broker and owner of Edna Mashaal Realty in Great Neck, said competition in the market hasn’t let up. Even after mortgage rates rose, houses priced around $1 million often find a buyer within a week.
“Every time a house comes on the market there are multiple offers on it,” she said. “ … There’s so many buyers for every house. It’s a seller’s market.”
Median price first half of 2023: $578,200
Median price first half of 2022: $649,000
West Islip appears to be one place where climbing mortgage rates had a greater effect on home prices.
The South Shore community, where all but one of the properties sold in the first half of the year were single-family homes, saw the median price fall even as agents report a serious scarcity of homes on the market.
The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 6.44% during the first six months of 2023. During that period a year ago, the average was 4.5%. It was 7.31% for the week ending Thursday, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.
At one point in the past week there were only 26 houses for sale in West Islip, when before the pandemic, associate broker Irene Siconolfi, of Douglas Elliman, remembers there being about five times as many.
Asked about the drop in price, Siconolfi said buyers were more hesitant earlier this year as they adjusted to higher mortgage rates. She suspects the median price could rise in the latter part of the year.
“I feel like in the beginning of the year we were slow because people were just trying to digest it,” said Siconolfi, a West Islip resident. “Then they realized this is not going to get better, it’s going to get worse, so I’m just going to pull the trigger.”
But she hasn’t noticed much of a change in the market and buyers are still doing whatever they can to land a deal, including looking at adjustable-rate mortgages to lower their monthly payments or borrowing money from family to bring more cash to deals.
“I’ve been advising people, if the listing goes up on Monday and you think you’re going to an open house on a Saturday, good luck because it’s not going to last that long,” she said.
A wide disparity in home prices within the town could have contributed to the change in median price from last year. At the end of September, listings ranged from $419,500 for a three-bedroom, lender-owned property to $5.95 million for an 8,000-square-foot house on the Great South Bay with a private beach.
Median price first half of 2023: $872,500
Median price first half of 2022: $973,000
In Dix Hills, one of the highest-priced areas of western Suffolk County, both home prices and the number of transactions were lower in the first half of 2023 than during that six-month stretch a year earlier.
Nearly all sales in Dix Hills are of single-family homes, but it’s possible a shift in types of houses that were sold in the first half contributed to a lower median price.
Deepa Sachdev, a Dix Hills resident and associate broker at Exit Realty Achieve in Smithtown, said the inventory situation there is similar to the rest of Long Island. There were about half as many houses for sale this summer as there were in the past couple of years, she said.
There are “people wanting to sell, but then where do they go given they’re currently sitting on a mortgage with a very low and desirable interest rate," she said. "They don’t feel like selling and then going somewhere where they will pay a lot more for a mortgage.”
Homeowners should be careful to seek prices that are reasonable based on other recent comparable sales, because buyers are savvy and have access to more data than ever on local home values, she said.
“You are starting to see some prices drop,” Sachdev said. “Some houses sit on the market for a lot longer than usual, but if a house is priced well and marketed well, there are a lot of buyers trying to buy it.”
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