This home in Holtsville, which was listed for $539,000, went...

This home in Holtsville, which was listed for $539,000, went into contract in February. Credit: Charles Rutenberg Realty

Long Island’s housing market in February recorded the fewest closed sales since July 2020, when the first wave of the pandemic delayed deals, as buyers continued to confront a shortage of homes on the market.

Completed sales fell 15.1% in Nassau County, to 954, and 17.7% in Suffolk, to 1,181 compared with February 2021, according to data released Tuesday by OneKey MLS. Islandwide, sales fell by 16.6%. A historically low number of homes on the market, a scarcity driven in part by intense buyer demand, has held back sales in recent months.

Home prices in both counties rose compared with the same month in the previous year. In Nassau, the median sale price was $650,000, or 8.5% higher than in February 2020. In Suffolk, the median sale went for $527,000 or 10.9% more than a year earlier. Prices were little changed from the previous month and have remained fairly stable since the fall.

Contracts signed last month point to higher closing prices in the spring. The median price of pending sales that have yet to close was $689,900 in Nassau County and $550,000 in Suffolk.

The Island’s inventory problem improved slightly by the end of last month. The market didn’t set a record low for homes on the market in February, as it had in the previous three months, with about 100 more listings at the end of last month than at the end of January. But there were still about 25% fewer homes on the market in February compared with the previous year.

Rising interest rates could limit homebuyers’ purchasing power this year. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.85% for the week ending March 10, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac. A year ago, that rate stood at 3.05%. The Federal Reserve will meet this week and is expected to approve a rate increase to tame inflation. Mortgage rates tend to rise during periods of inflation.

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