A sign advertises an open house in Roslyn Harbor in April last...

A sign advertises an open house in Roslyn Harbor in April last year. For homes priced between about $300,000 and $500,000, "you have an open house on a weekend and you get five offers," said an associate broker in Amity Harbor. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Long Island home prices rose last month as the supply of homes for sale dwindled.

In Suffolk County, the median sale price jumped to $401,750 in January, up 5.7% from a year earlier, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Tuesday. Nassau County home prices ticked up by 1.4% year-over-year, to $532,250.

The number of homes listed for sale dropped by 6.5% in Suffolk and 3.2% in Nassau, compared with the previous January, the listing service reported.  

At the current pace of sales, it would take 4.1 months to sell all the listed homes in Suffolk and 4.7 months in Nassau. Brokers say a balanced market has a six- to eight-month supply of homes.

For homes priced between about $300,000 and $500,000, "you have an open house on a weekend and you get five offers," said Jerry O’Neill, an associate broker with Signature Premier Property in Amity Harbor, who handles sales in both counties. "It's frustrating for the agents, it's frustrating for the buyers. It's just definitely a seller's market."

January was a busy month for closings and contract signings in Suffolk, with closed sales increasing by 11% and pending sales up 5.9%, compared with the same period in 2019. In Nassau County, closed sales inched up by 0.5% and pending sales rose by 3.1%.

Low interest rates and strong economic trends contribute to the busy market, especially since rents are so high on Long Island, O'Neill said.

Mortgage rates averaged 3.47 percent last week, down 0.9 percentage points from a year earlier, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported. 

At those rates, O'Neill said, "you can own a house for what it costs to pay rent."

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