Communities near downtowns, nature and transportation, as well as those that seem affordable, have been drawing homebuyers braving the market. Newsday's Jonathan LaMantia looks at six Long Island hot spots. Credit: NewsdayTV

If Long Island homebuyers are confused by today's prices, you can’t blame them, says real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller.

Despite the average mortgage rate more than doubling last year, making homes more expensive to purchase, the median home price in all but a smattering of Long Island communities kept rising. That's according to data on nearly 200 communities that Miller, CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, compiled for Newsday. Prices stayed firm even as there were 15.5% fewer transactions last year than in 2021.

“We’re seeing prices not vary that much from the rocketship of 2021, which is very confusing,” Miller said. “There’s an expectation that we’re coming out of this boom, rates have doubled and prices should be more affordable, and that’s not the case."

In more than one-third of Long Island communities, the median home price increased by more than 10% last year compared with 2021. The areas that saw the greatest appreciation varied widely, from some of the Island’s most affordable corners to its most expensive, stretching from the Nassau-Queens border to eastern Suffolk County. The data excludes sales on the East End, which Miller Samuel reports separately from the rest of the Island.

Newsday spoke with real estate agents in six of the hot spots — Bellport, Oyster Bay, Wading River, Woodmere, Melville and Hempstead — where there were more than 50 home sales in both 2022 and 2021, and prices increased by at least 15%.

Across the board, real estate agents pointed to an insufficient number of houses for sale as the key factor keeping sellers in control — and thwarting buyers. At the same time, the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage has risen to 6.32% as of March 30, according to Freddie Mac, adding hundreds of dollars to homebuyers' monthly payments. A year earlier, the average was 4.67%. 

“Buyers are beyond frustrated,” said Amy Tansill, a real estate agent at Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, who has worked with buyers and sellers in Oyster Bay. “They’re emotionally wrung out. They can’t find houses and when they do find one they love or one they can settle for, they get outbid.”

Overall, the median home price on Long Island, excluding the East End, rose 7.1% last year to $600,000, according to a year-end report from Miller Samuel and real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul cited Newsday’s reporting on rising home prices earlier this month in Patchogue while promoting a plan in her budget proposal to build 800,000 housing units across the state in the next decade. The housing plan has faced resistance over its potential to lessen local control over zoning decisions from local Republican lawmakers in the State Legislature. 

The most recent data on home sales from February suggested 2023 might finally be the year that local home prices level off or dip slightly. The median sale price among closings in Nassau County fell 1.5% to $640,000 compared with February 2022, while the Suffolk median rose 1.5% to $533,500, according to OneKey MLS.

“In fairness, a lot of the price growth that occurred in 2022 was in the first couple of quarters as opposed to the entire year,” Miller said. “I would think 2023 is much more modest price growth." 

Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin, cautioned that Long Island homeowners shouldn’t necessarily expect the kind of springtime surge in prices that has occurred in the past.

"We’re just not going to see the gains that we would normally see in spring," she said. "Home prices will stay flatter." 

Here are six communities where prices soared last year:  

Median price 2022: $437,500

Median price 2021: $365,250

Percentage change: 19.8%

The median home price in Bellport rose faster than any other area of Long Island, excluding the East End, where there were at least 50 sales last year.

Since 2019, the median price has increased nearly 60% from about $274,000. Even after that price jump, Bellport remains one of the Island’s most affordable locations.  

It’s worth noting that OneKey MLS distinguishes between Bellport and Bellport Village, an incorporated area south of Head of the Neck Road where bayfront homes can sell for millions.

With mortgage borrowers paying more toward interest each month, areas such as Bellport, where there are homes with annual property taxes of $10,000 or less, have become more attractive, said Al Jacabacci, a real estate agent at Exit Home Key Realty in Patchogue.

“It’s still one of the more affordable neighborhoods, and it seems like a lot of young first-time homebuyers are flocking to this area, especially with the revitalization of the village in Patchogue," he said, noting the short Uber ride from Bellport to Patchogue’s Main Street.  

Deborah Dowd, a real estate agent with Signature Premier Properties who is listing a home in Bellport, said the tough market has opened buyers’ eyes to the area, and the charm of Bellport Village's restaurants and shops.

Other communities along Suffolk’s South Shore that saw the median price rise by at least 15% last year include Blue Point, East Patchogue and Center Moriches. 

“People just keep coming farther out east,” Dowd said. Because of low inventory “if you’re stuck in a specific town because of schools or family or something like that, it’s going to take you longer to find a place. … Bellport was just kind of next on the list, quite honestly. Kind of undiscovered and then it was discovered.”

Median price 2022: $762,250

Median price 2021: $644,000

Percentage change: 18.4%

Home shoppers in Oyster Bay are hard-pressed to land a deal, particularly those looking at properties under $1 million who want to avoid renovations after they move in, said Tansill, the Daniel Gale Sotheby’s agent.  

“What I try to explain to them is let’s go to a whole different [price point],” she said. “Go lower, go find a fixer-upper and you’ll be that top offer.”

She said Oyster Bay’s Main Street is a selling point for buyers, with its boutiques, restaurants and Oyster Bay Brewing Co., as well as The WaterFront Center, which offers sailing lessons and marine education programs for kids.

Tansill recently sold a three-bedroom townhouse in Oyster Bay for $711,000, with the property garnering multiple offers within a week. That price was $42,000 above its list price.

There were 11 homes on the market earlier this week, including two co-ops and a duplex.

Median price 2022: $606,500

Median price 2021: $515,000

Percentage change: 17.8%

It wasn’t long ago that a typical house in Wading River, the Suffolk County hamlet located just west of the Island’s North Fork, could be had for around $400,000.

But in the years after the pandemic started, Wading River started to attract more interest from buyers in New York City and the Hamptons, where some homeowners decided to cash in and relocate, said Kalliopi Suarez, a real estate agent at Howard Hanna Coach Realtors, who lives in Wading River. Suarez noted the area’s beach on Long Island Sound as well as its hiking and biking trails as potential draws. 

Nearby Baiting Hollow has seen similar appreciation, with the median price increasing 17.4% last year.

Suarez said families often live in Wading River for several generations but higher prices have made that more difficult.

“It’s disappointing to them to realize my kids can’t live here anymore,” Suarez said. “The younger generation is getting priced out, and those of us who are here, if we were to sell, can’t afford to come back."

Nicole Mullen, 52, looked for a house in Wading River for about three months but found scant options in her price range of around $540,000 to $600,000. She’s currently renting a house in Mattituck for $3,000 a month but preferred to live farther west in Wading River, where she raised her three children, in anticipation they might move back to the area soon.  

“It’s rough out there,” she said. “The homes — a lot of them need a lot of work and they’re going for top dollar and the ones that don’t need the work I just can’t afford.”

Instead, she opted to look outside Wading River and recently put in an offer on a three-bedroom house in Miller Place that includes a legal accessory apartment she could rent out. 

“Opening myself up to different areas was super important,” Mullen said. “Stick to your guns and be patient. You don’t have to pay tons over asking to get what you want.”

Median price 2022: $971,000

Median price 2021: $829,000

Percentage change: 17.1%

Woodmere, part of the Five Towns, saw the median price of a home approach $1 million last year.

Only seven of the 26 single-family homes on the market earlier this week were priced below that mark — and two were asking $999,000. There are also seven co-op apartments for sale.

Woodmere residents have short trips to both beaches and Kennedy Airport. 

It often draws buyers from Brooklyn and the Rockaways and has a steady move-up market from smaller to larger houses, said Jonathan Winter, an agent with Howard Hanna Coach Realtors in Hewlett.

Winter said he expects home prices won't rise much after last year's double-digit growth.  

"I think this year there will be a little bit of a slowdown because homeowners are projecting what their houses will be worth based on what happened last year," Winter said. "I think gradually there will be a build-up of inventory because some of these expectations are not reasonable."

The limited selection of houses is tied, in part, to homeowners who have low fixed mortgage rates and limited affordable options to move, said Ronnie Gerber, a real estate agent at Douglas Elliman, who lives in Hewlett.

"People are more concerned now,” she said. "Where it used to be, 'Can I sell my house?' Now their concern is, 'Where would I go?' "

Median price 2022: $784,500

Median price 2021: $675,000

Percentage change: 16.2%

At the heart of one of the Island’s main commercial corridors, Melville offers quick access to some of the Island’s largest employers.

The roughly 33 listings available earlier this week were split evenly between single-family homes and condos, with houses starting at $415,000 and ranging above $2 million for new construction luxury homes.

Bobbie Gujral, an agent at Property Professionals Realty in Hicksville, said she’s seen high demand for homes in Melville’s gated communities, which offer a mix of single-family houses, townhomes and condos. Some are restricted to adults 55 and older.

“Anything that comes up in a gated community goes over asking, and it’s a quick sale,” she said, noting some prefer the townhomes over single-family houses on larger lots because the taxes are lower.

 Gujral said she hasn’t noticed prices falling in 2023.

“Unless they are desperate, sellers are OK to wait because they know they will eventually get the price," she said. 

Median price 2022: $510,000

Median price 2021: $439,000

Percentage change: 16.2%  

A combination of low interest rates early last year and few houses on the market helped propel home prices in Hempstead, said Nicole Burke, an associate broker at Charles Rutenberg Realty who has listed several homes in the village.

Listings in Hempstead include single-family and multifamily houses, which range from $339,000 to $829,000, as well as co-op apartments. Burke said buyers find Hempstead’s central location between the Northern State and Southern State parkways and its proximity to New York City desirable for commuting.

She said she was surprised to find herself waiting in lines in March with two different buyers. “If more people put their houses on the market or if there was an opportunity where builders can build houses, I think that would lessen the pressure,” she said.

Burke said she worries what rising prices mean for affordability. “These families purchasing houses, they can get in. They saved their money. They’ve got their closing costs. What happens to the ones that don’t have that?”

Veronique Darelus, 49, said he had been searching around Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island for about two years for a house before he found a three-bedroom house in Hempstead that he bought with his girlfriend, Jocelyn Claude, last year. The move from Canarsie, Brooklyn, met his family’s needs and shortened the commute to his job as a support staff member at a group home for people with developmental disabilities in Freeport.

“When I bought the house, it’s not only the right place for me, it’s that the place is fit for my kids,” Darelus said. “If I were to recommend someone to buy a house on Long Island, the first thing is where are you going to go? If you’ve got family or kids, it’s about the schools and that the area you’re going to live is safe.”

If Long Island homebuyers are confused by today's prices, you can’t blame them, says real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller.

Despite the average mortgage rate more than doubling last year, making homes more expensive to purchase, the median home price in all but a smattering of Long Island communities kept rising. That's according to data on nearly 200 communities that Miller, CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, compiled for Newsday. Prices stayed firm even as there were 15.5% fewer transactions last year than in 2021.

“We’re seeing prices not vary that much from the rocketship of 2021, which is very confusing,” Miller said. “There’s an expectation that we’re coming out of this boom, rates have doubled and prices should be more affordable, and that’s not the case."

In more than one-third of Long Island communities, the median home price increased by more than 10% last year compared with 2021. The areas that saw the greatest appreciation varied widely, from some of the Island’s most affordable corners to its most expensive, stretching from the Nassau-Queens border to eastern Suffolk County. The data excludes sales on the East End, which Miller Samuel reports separately from the rest of the Island.

Newsday spoke with real estate agents in six of the hot spots — Bellport, Oyster Bay, Wading River, Woodmere, Melville and Hempstead — where there were more than 50 home sales in both 2022 and 2021, and prices increased by at least 15%.

Across the board, real estate agents pointed to an insufficient number of houses for sale as the key factor keeping sellers in control — and thwarting buyers. At the same time, the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage has risen to 6.32% as of March 30, according to Freddie Mac, adding hundreds of dollars to homebuyers' monthly payments. A year earlier, the average was 4.67%. 

“Buyers are beyond frustrated,” said Amy Tansill, a real estate agent at Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, who has worked with buyers and sellers in Oyster Bay. “They’re emotionally wrung out. They can’t find houses and when they do find one they love or one they can settle for, they get outbid.”

Overall, the median home price on Long Island, excluding the East End, rose 7.1% last year to $600,000, according to a year-end report from Miller Samuel and real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul cited Newsday’s reporting on rising home prices earlier this month in Patchogue while promoting a plan in her budget proposal to build 800,000 housing units across the state in the next decade. The housing plan has faced resistance over its potential to lessen local control over zoning decisions from local Republican lawmakers in the State Legislature. 

The most recent data on home sales from February suggested 2023 might finally be the year that local home prices level off or dip slightly. The median sale price among closings in Nassau County fell 1.5% to $640,000 compared with February 2022, while the Suffolk median rose 1.5% to $533,500, according to OneKey MLS.

“In fairness, a lot of the price growth that occurred in 2022 was in the first couple of quarters as opposed to the entire year,” Miller said. “I would think 2023 is much more modest price growth." 

Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin, cautioned that Long Island homeowners shouldn’t necessarily expect the kind of springtime surge in prices that has occurred in the past.

"We’re just not going to see the gains that we would normally see in spring," she said. "Home prices will stay flatter." 

Here are six communities where prices soared last year:  

Bellport

This three-bedroom house in Bellport, where the median home price...

This three-bedroom house in Bellport, where the median home price rose nearly 20% last year, is listed at $489,900. Credit: Signature Premier Properties

Median price 2022: $437,500

Median price 2021: $365,250

Percentage change: 19.8%

The median home price in Bellport rose faster than any other area of Long Island, excluding the East End, where there were at least 50 sales last year.

Since 2019, the median price has increased nearly 60% from about $274,000. Even after that price jump, Bellport remains one of the Island’s most affordable locations.  

It’s worth noting that OneKey MLS distinguishes between Bellport and Bellport Village, an incorporated area south of Head of the Neck Road where bayfront homes can sell for millions.

With mortgage borrowers paying more toward interest each month, areas such as Bellport, where there are homes with annual property taxes of $10,000 or less, have become more attractive, said Al Jacabacci, a real estate agent at Exit Home Key Realty in Patchogue.

“It’s still one of the more affordable neighborhoods, and it seems like a lot of young first-time homebuyers are flocking to this area, especially with the revitalization of the village in Patchogue," he said, noting the short Uber ride from Bellport to Patchogue’s Main Street.  

Deborah Dowd, a real estate agent with Signature Premier Properties who is listing a home in Bellport, said the tough market has opened buyers’ eyes to the area, and the charm of Bellport Village's restaurants and shops.

Other communities along Suffolk’s South Shore that saw the median price rise by at least 15% last year include Blue Point, East Patchogue and Center Moriches. 

“People just keep coming farther out east,” Dowd said. Because of low inventory “if you’re stuck in a specific town because of schools or family or something like that, it’s going to take you longer to find a place. … Bellport was just kind of next on the list, quite honestly. Kind of undiscovered and then it was discovered.”

Oyster Bay  

The gazebo in Oyster Bay on Sunday.

The gazebo in Oyster Bay on Sunday. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Median price 2022: $762,250

Median price 2021: $644,000

Percentage change: 18.4%

Home shoppers in Oyster Bay are hard-pressed to land a deal, particularly those looking at properties under $1 million who want to avoid renovations after they move in, said Tansill, the Daniel Gale Sotheby’s agent.  

“What I try to explain to them is let’s go to a whole different [price point],” she said. “Go lower, go find a fixer-upper and you’ll be that top offer.”

She said Oyster Bay’s Main Street is a selling point for buyers, with its boutiques, restaurants and Oyster Bay Brewing Co., as well as The WaterFront Center, which offers sailing lessons and marine education programs for kids.

Tansill recently sold a three-bedroom townhouse in Oyster Bay for $711,000, with the property garnering multiple offers within a week. That price was $42,000 above its list price.

There were 11 homes on the market earlier this week, including two co-ops and a duplex.

Wading River

This five-bedroom 3,800-square-foot house in Wading River is listed for...

This five-bedroom 3,800-square-foot house in Wading River is listed for $999,000.  Credit: Image Habitat/Jim Harrison

Median price 2022: $606,500

Median price 2021: $515,000

Percentage change: 17.8%

It wasn’t long ago that a typical house in Wading River, the Suffolk County hamlet located just west of the Island’s North Fork, could be had for around $400,000.

But in the years after the pandemic started, Wading River started to attract more interest from buyers in New York City and the Hamptons, where some homeowners decided to cash in and relocate, said Kalliopi Suarez, a real estate agent at Howard Hanna Coach Realtors, who lives in Wading River. Suarez noted the area’s beach on Long Island Sound as well as its hiking and biking trails as potential draws. 

Nearby Baiting Hollow has seen similar appreciation, with the median price increasing 17.4% last year.

Suarez said families often live in Wading River for several generations but higher prices have made that more difficult.

“It’s disappointing to them to realize my kids can’t live here anymore,” Suarez said. “The younger generation is getting priced out, and those of us who are here, if we were to sell, can’t afford to come back."

Nicole Mullen, 52, looked for a house in Wading River for about three months but found scant options in her price range of around $540,000 to $600,000. She’s currently renting a house in Mattituck for $3,000 a month but preferred to live farther west in Wading River, where she raised her three children, in anticipation they might move back to the area soon.  

Nicole Mullen, shown here at Veterans Beach Park in Mattituck, searched for...

Nicole Mullen, shown here at Veterans Beach Park in Mattituck, searched for a home in Wading River for about three months before deciding to look in neighboring towns, where her money would go further.  Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

“It’s rough out there,” she said. “The homes — a lot of them need a lot of work and they’re going for top dollar and the ones that don’t need the work I just can’t afford.”

Instead, she opted to look outside Wading River and recently put in an offer on a three-bedroom house in Miller Place that includes a legal accessory apartment she could rent out. 

“Opening myself up to different areas was super important,” Mullen said. “Stick to your guns and be patient. You don’t have to pay tons over asking to get what you want.”

Woodmere

This five-bedroom split level home in the Saddle Ridge section...

This five-bedroom split level home in the Saddle Ridge section of Woodmere is listed for $1,195,000. Credit: VHT Studios/Nicole Altkin

Median price 2022: $971,000

Median price 2021: $829,000

Percentage change: 17.1%

Woodmere, part of the Five Towns, saw the median price of a home approach $1 million last year.

Only seven of the 26 single-family homes on the market earlier this week were priced below that mark — and two were asking $999,000. There are also seven co-op apartments for sale.

Woodmere residents have short trips to both beaches and Kennedy Airport. 

It often draws buyers from Brooklyn and the Rockaways and has a steady move-up market from smaller to larger houses, said Jonathan Winter, an agent with Howard Hanna Coach Realtors in Hewlett.

Winter said he expects home prices won't rise much after last year's double-digit growth.  

"I think this year there will be a little bit of a slowdown because homeowners are projecting what their houses will be worth based on what happened last year," Winter said. "I think gradually there will be a build-up of inventory because some of these expectations are not reasonable."

The limited selection of houses is tied, in part, to homeowners who have low fixed mortgage rates and limited affordable options to move, said Ronnie Gerber, a real estate agent at Douglas Elliman, who lives in Hewlett.

"People are more concerned now,” she said. "Where it used to be, 'Can I sell my house?' Now their concern is, 'Where would I go?' "

Melville

This three-bedroom townhouse in Melville sold for $910,000 in October. 

This three-bedroom townhouse in Melville sold for $910,000 in October.  Credit: Property Professionals Realty

Median price 2022: $784,500

Median price 2021: $675,000

Percentage change: 16.2%

At the heart of one of the Island’s main commercial corridors, Melville offers quick access to some of the Island’s largest employers.

The roughly 33 listings available earlier this week were split evenly between single-family homes and condos, with houses starting at $415,000 and ranging above $2 million for new construction luxury homes.

Bobbie Gujral, an agent at Property Professionals Realty in Hicksville, said she’s seen high demand for homes in Melville’s gated communities, which offer a mix of single-family houses, townhomes and condos. Some are restricted to adults 55 and older.

“Anything that comes up in a gated community goes over asking, and it’s a quick sale,” she said, noting some prefer the townhomes over single-family houses on larger lots because the taxes are lower.

 Gujral said she hasn’t noticed prices falling in 2023.

“Unless they are desperate, sellers are OK to wait because they know they will eventually get the price," she said. 

Hempstead

The view of houses looking northeast in Hempstead on Wednesday. 

The view of houses looking northeast in Hempstead on Wednesday.  Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Median price 2022: $510,000

Median price 2021: $439,000

Percentage change: 16.2%  

A combination of low interest rates early last year and few houses on the market helped propel home prices in Hempstead, said Nicole Burke, an associate broker at Charles Rutenberg Realty who has listed several homes in the village.

Listings in Hempstead include single-family and multifamily houses, which range from $339,000 to $829,000, as well as co-op apartments. Burke said buyers find Hempstead’s central location between the Northern State and Southern State parkways and its proximity to New York City desirable for commuting.

She said she was surprised to find herself waiting in lines in March with two different buyers. “If more people put their houses on the market or if there was an opportunity where builders can build houses, I think that would lessen the pressure,” she said.

Burke said she worries what rising prices mean for affordability. “These families purchasing houses, they can get in. They saved their money. They’ve got their closing costs. What happens to the ones that don’t have that?”

Veronique Darelus, 49, said he had been searching around Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island for about two years for a house before he found a three-bedroom house in Hempstead that he bought with his girlfriend, Jocelyn Claude, last year. The move from Canarsie, Brooklyn, met his family’s needs and shortened the commute to his job as a support staff member at a group home for people with developmental disabilities in Freeport.

“When I bought the house, it’s not only the right place for me, it’s that the place is fit for my kids,” Darelus said. “If I were to recommend someone to buy a house on Long Island, the first thing is where are you going to go? If you’ve got family or kids, it’s about the schools and that the area you’re going to live is safe.”

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