Reports are showing that home prices dropped or held steady...

Reports are showing that home prices dropped or held steady across most of Long Island this spring. (July 25, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Home prices dropped or held steady across most of Long Island this spring, even though the real estate market was busier, a pair of new reports found.

The most dramatic decline was in the Hamptons, where the median price dipped to $850,000 in the second quarter, a 9 percent drop compared to the same period last year, according to a report on East End home prices scheduled to be released Thursday by the appraisal firm Miller Samuel and the brokerage Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

In the rest of Suffolk County -- excluding the East End and North Fork -- the median price was $295,000, unchanged from last spring, according to a companion report. In Nassau County, the typical home fetched $395,000, a decline of 1.3 percent.

It's unlikely that prices will rise much before mid-2013, and even then the increase is likely to be modest, said Dottie Herman, president of Prudential Douglas Elliman. "Long Island is not going to go down," Herman said, "but I don't see it going up so quickly either."

One region where home prices outpaced the rest of the Island was Suffolk County's north shore, where the median price was up by less than 1 percent, to $457,000. The number of sales in Suffolk's north shore spiked by nearly 33 percent, to 219.

"This is probably the best spring market we've had in four years," said Barbara Wanamaker of Signature Premier Properties in Huntington. It helps that sellers have finally agreed to drop prices, she said.

Other regions on the Island saw slight price declines in the spring, compared to the same period in 2011. The median home selling price in the North Fork was $415,000, a drop of nearly 3 percent. Along Suffolk County's South Shore, prices dropped by nearly 5 percent, to $275,000.

The sluggish prices come despite this spring's rise in sales activity. In Nassau County, the number of sales rose by 13 percent compared to last spring, with 2,364 homes changing hands. In Suffolk County -- not including the East End -- 2,217 homes were sold, a 5 percent increase.

Sales were up in the East End too, with 676 homes sold -- 9 percent more than the previous spring, and one of the busiest spring markets in six years, according to Miller Samuel.

Historically low mortgage interest rates are driving that activity, said Jonathan Miller, president of the appraisal firm.

The number of East End homes on the market rose by 5 percent, to 2,452. However, buyers had less to choose from across the rest of the Island, with for-sale inventory falling by 13 percent, to 19,769.

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