Long Island homebuyers hit the brakes last month, but home prices kept rising.
The number of closed sales fell by 9.3% in Nassau County and 7.3% in Suffolk County last month, compared with the previous November, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Tuesday.
Despite the slower market, the median price inched up by 1.7% year over year in Nassau, to $534,100, and rose by 6.4% in Suffolk, to $400,000, the listing service reported.
“It’s still a strong sellers’ market under that $600,000 price range,” said Angela Prince, owner of Prince & Associates Realty Group in Bay Shore. Mortgage interest rates, she said, “are still low enough, which is helping buyers to still want to purchase.” The average mortgage rate was 3.73% last week, down 0.9 percentage points from a year earlier, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported.
However, Prince said, “In the over-$850,000, $900,000 market, we’re starting to shift into a buyers’ market, believe it or not.”
In the low- and midpriced housing markets, buyers are facing a shortage of inventory that is helping to drive up prices, Prince said. It would take just under five months to sell all the homes listed for sale in Nassau and 4.5 months in Suffolk, at the current pace of sales, listing service figures show. A balanced market has a six- to eight-month supply, brokers say.
The number of homes for sale fell by 4.6% in Nassau and ticked up by 1.3% in Suffolk, year over year, listing service figures show.
The housing market could pick up speed in the coming months, if the number of contract signings last month is any indication of a turnaround. Last month, the number of pending sales increased year over year by 5.4% in Nassau and 8.6% in Suffolk, the listing service reported.
Long Island’s high-priced rental market, with many apartments renting for $2,500 or more a month, prompts many local residents to purchase properties, because the monthly cost can work out to be the same, Prince said.
“The rental market is through the roof,” Prince said. “You might as well own something and build your own equity.”