TODAY'S PAPER
35° Good Evening
35° Good Evening
Business

LI home prices increase as demand outstrips shrinking supply

Price tags have risen so much that some longtime homeowners would like to downsize or trade up, but they can't find an appealing house at the right price.

Kelly Harris in front of her three-bedroom waterfront

Kelly Harris in front of her three-bedroom waterfront home in Massapequa, recently put on the market, on Monday.  Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

 Long Island housing prices climbed in April as demand for homes outstripped supply.

Homes in Suffolk County sold for a median price of $363,750 last month, up 7 percent from a year earlier, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Monday. Nassau County homes traded for a median price of $495,000 in April, a year-over-year rise of 4.2 percent.

With mortgage interest rates rising, some home buyers are rushing to close deals before they increase further, brokers said. The average rate for a 30-year home loan was 4.55 percent last week, up 0.5 percentage point from a year earlier, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported.

“The buyers are all about locking in low rates these days,” said Tracey DeMeo, a real estate agent with Exit Realty Premier in Massapequa Park. “They’re afraid it’s going to go higher.”

In Suffolk, the number of closed home sales dropped by 4.7 percent, and listings fell by 13 percent, the listing service reported.

In Nassau, closed sales increased by 3.2 percent year over year, and inventory dropped by 2.4 percent.

Prices have risen so much that some longtime homeowners would like to either downsize or trade up, but they can’t find an appealing house in their price range, real estate agents said.

“I’m seeing people stay put, and it’s amazing to me because the market is so hot right now,” said Melanie Mazzeo, a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman in Huntington. But, she said, “if they want to stay on Long Island and be close to their children and grandkids, they don’t have many choices.”

Condominiums often cost as much as larger homes, she said.

Gary Epstein, a certified public accountant and partner at Zapken & Loeb LLP in Woodbury, and his wife, Toby, recently sold their five-bedroom home in Plainview, and they hope to close this month on the purchase of a two-bedroom unit with a full basement at the new 750-home Country Pointe development in Plainview. The condo is in the same price range as the couple’s previous home, the mid-$800,000s, Epstein said.

“For me it’s a lateral move monetarily, even though I’m ‘downsizing,’ ” Epstein said of the condo purchase. “I’m just getting rid of the headaches of homeownership.”

Long Island’s high home prices have prompted some sellers to come up with creative solutions.

Kelly and Mike Harris have long planned to buy a boat when they retire. But then they realized that if they sell their home and buy a boat now, they can retire earlier — in about four years, instead of eight to 10, said Kelly Harris, 49, an accountant at an engineering firm in Hauppauge; her husband, 54, is an elevator engineer.

Their three-bedroom, Craftsman-style home on the waterfront in Massapequa is listed for $849,000; the couple elevated and renovated it after superstorm Sandy in 2012. They plan to move to a 50- to 60-foot boat, which they expect to keep at a nearby marina until they’re ready to retire.

“We just moved up our long-term plan,” she said.“If we do it now, we can live on a boat now and save that money while we’re young enough and have no mortgage and no taxes.”

More news