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Long Island home prices up, inventory down in first quarter, report says

Margaret Biegelman, of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, shows

Margaret Biegelman, of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, shows the dining room in a newly constructed five-bedroom house on Ocean Avenue in Seaford on April 19, 2015. Credit: Steve Pfost

Long Island real estate prices got a boost at the start of this year, as buyers jostled for a limited supply of homes.

During the first three months of 2015, homes sold for a median price of $360,000, a year-over-year increase of 4.3 percent, the appraisal firm Miller Samuel and the brokerage Douglas Elliman said in a report to be released Thursday. The figures reflect sales across Long Island, excluding the East End.

Those slow but steady price increases are likely to continue, since stringent mortgage lending standards and lackluster wage growth are keeping a lid on the housing market, said Dottie Herman, chief executive of Douglas Elliman. "Financing is still pretty tight, and until that loosens up, you're not going to get leaps and bounds of price increases," she said.

Home buyers closed on 4,266 sales -- 5 percent more than the same period in 2014 and Long Island's busiest first quarter since 2007, before the housing crash. Inventory fell by more than 2 percent year-over-year, with 14,759 homes listed for sale.

That's 25 percent below the average inventory for the past 10 years, said Jonathan Miller, chief executive of Miller Samuel. Many would-be sellers do not have enough equity to afford the down payment on their next home, so they're "stuck" in their current residence, Miller said.

In the Hamptons, the median home price increased by 4.6 percent year-over-year, to $920,500, and the number of closed sales increased by 2.5 percent, to 541, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman reported.

Hamptons inventory was at its lowest since the second quarter of 2010, said Ernest Cervi, the Corcoran Group's regional senior vice president for the East End. "We're seeing the pent-up activity that didn't happen in the first quarter spill over into the second quarter," Cervi said. "Since the sun came out, people are coming out."

Along the South Shore of Nassau County, sellers had their busiest first quarter since before Sandy devastated the region in October 2012. The number of sales soared by 25 percent annually, according to the Miller Samuel report.

The median price along Nassau's southern coast rose year-over-year by 4.8 percent, to $390,000.

That's in part because storm-damaged homes that have been repaired and expanded are pulling prices up, Miller said.

The memories of the damage caused by Sandy are fading, Herman said.

"At the end of the day, people like water, people like beaches," she said. "I think the trauma of what happened is over."

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