Long Island's real estate market kept climbing in May, with home prices making year-over-year gains for the seventh straight month.
In Suffolk County, homes closed for a median price of $330,000, up 10 percent compared with a year earlier, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Monday. The rise came despite a 3.7 percent drop in the number of closed home sales.
Nassau County home prices increased by 6.1 percent, to $435,000, while the number of closed transactions rose by 2.4 percent.
Gradual improvements in the metropolitan region's economy and job market have given a boost to local home sales, said Gary Baumann, an associate broker at Douglas Elliman in Huntington and Port Washington. In contrast to a few years ago, prospective home buyers "have jobs, they feel secure in their jobs, so they're ready to buy," he said.
Demand is especially strong for homes near train stations within commuting distance of New York City, Baumann said.
However, buyers are watching mortgage rates carefully, he said. Last week, the average interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rose above 4 percent for the first time since November, home loan giant Freddie Mac reported.
Home buyers are still eager to take advantage of low rates, but if rates rise much further, "the market would definitely take a little bit of a hit," Baumann said.
This winter's snowstorms were another factor affecting the housing market. The storms temporarily depressed sales, creating a surge of pent-up demand in spring, brokers said.
Across Long Island, the number of home buyers signing sales contracts last month rose by 12 percent year-over-year, the listing service reported. That increased activity drove up pending sales prices by 3.5 percent year-over-year in Suffolk County, to a median $341,500 in May, and by 4.3 percent in Nassau County, to $447,500.
Buyers signed 2,684 sales contracts in Nassau and Suffolk last month, almost double the 1,447 signed in January, according to the listing service.
Despite recent gains, Long Island's housing market does not come close to matching the frenzied pace of the housing boom of the mid-2000s. In Suffolk last month, it would have taken almost a year to sell all 10,972 homes on the market at the current pace of sales. In Nassau, it would have taken about nine months to sell all 7,463 listed homes. By contrast, in August 2004, Long Island had less than a six-month supply of homes, with fewer than 16,000 listings.