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6 communities where prices have held their ground

The median home prices in Port Jefferson have

The median home prices in Port Jefferson have risen 8 percent in the past year. Photo Credit: Newsday, 2008 / Michael E. Ach

It's been said that flat is the new up: In the sagging real estate market, property values that simply manage not to dip are noteworthy, while signs of growth appear downright miraculous. But a closer look reveals that it's not divine intervention that's responsible - just the combination of supply, demand and good old-fashioned value.

That's as it should be, says Frank Dell'Accio, president of the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island. "What we went through in those boom years, that's not normal," he says. Buying a home "was intended to be a solid, slow-growing, secure investment for you and your family to grow and live in." That may help explain how a handful of communities has managed to buck the downward trend and shows signs of resilience toward the second half of last year.

According to the Multiple Listing Service, third-quarter median prices in these areas remained steady - and, in some cases, even increased - compared to the same period the year before. (Fourth-quarter data showed the same trend in some areas, but third-quarter numbers were used for this report because "spring has the most activity in terms of homes going into contract, and the third quarter is when we would see all those sales closing," says Dell'Accio.)

That's no small feat in light of the market: In January, there was a 9.3 percent decline in the median sales price across Long Island last year compared to 2008.

The initial November 2009 deadline for the first-time home buyers' tax credit probably helped fuel overall market activity, but it doesn't explain the sales bump in higher-end areas . . . where the income requirement to buy a home would disqualify the buyer from receiving the credit, says Dell'Accio. In some areas, "it's just the desirability."

Read on to find out what's so special about the six Long Island localities where home values are holding their own.

PORT JEFFERSON

WHERE IT IS

Port Jefferson is on the North Shore. The harbor town's neighbors include the Three Village area - Stony Brook, Setauket and Old Field - to the west, Mount Sinai and Miller Place to the east and Port Jefferson Station to the south. There are three hospitals nearby: Stony Brook University Medical Center, St. Charles Hospital and John T. Mather Memorial Hospital. The Bridgeport-Port Jefferson ferry to Connecticut is on West Broadway, and the Long Island Rail Road station is on Main Street.


WHAT THE NUMBERS SHOW

The third-quarter median price for Port Jefferson (excluding Belle Terre) rose from $485,500 to $525,000 - an 8 percent increase. Some 17 homes sold in the third quarter of 2009, up from 14 in the third quarter in 2008.


WHY IT'S HOT

"People choose to live in Port Jefferson primarily because of our school district and the country club amenities," says Jolie Powell of Jolie Powell Realty Inc. in Port Jefferson. "And we have the lowest property taxes in the Brookhaven Township," she adds, explaining that National Grid's generating plant brings in tax revenue. "We have our own private beach ... and our own country club. ... There's a lot of community effort, from residents to merchants, to keep our village thriving."


RECENT HOME SALE

This five-bedroom, three-bathroom farm ranch at 22 Corie Ct. sold Sept. 18 for $530,000. It had been listed June 1 for $539,999.

NEW HYDE PARK

WHERE IT IS

New Hyde Park is in western Nassau County, next to Queens. Its neighboring communities include Floral Park, Stewart Manor, Garden City and Lake Success. Part of New Hyde Park is in the Town of Hempstead, part in the Town of North Hempstead. It's about a 30-minute train ride into Manhattan from the community's Long Island Rail Road station, says Mary Ellen Divone of Herricks Realty in New Hyde Park.

 
WHAT THE NUMBERS SHOW

Only 54 homes sold in the third quarter of 2009, compared to 78 the previous year in New Hyde Park. But the dip in activity didn't hurt home values: The median price rose 4 percent, from $480,000 to $500,000.


WHY IT'S HOT

The quick commute to the city and New Hyde Park's proximity to the Marcus Avenue business district, Lake Success Quadrangle and three major hospitals create a housing demand in the area, says Ron Perone of Herricks Realty in New Hyde Park. "A lot of people want to live close to where they work," he says. "That's the beauty of it," says Divone. "It's really central to everything."


RECENT HOME SALE

This three-bedroom, three-bathroom Colonial at 22 Hoffman Rd. sold Nov. 4 for $471,000. It had been listed June 17 for $530,000, then was reduced to $499,000.

HOLBROOK

WHERE IT IS

Holbrook falls roughly midway between the North and South shores, near the center of Suffolk County. Neighboring communities include Holtsville, Ronkonkoma, Farmingville and Sayville. Holbrook straddles the towns of Brookhaven and Islip and is close to Suffolk County Community College, Stony Brook University and St. Joseph's College.


WHAT THE NUMBERS SHOW

The median third-quarter prices from 2008 to 2009 were virtually level, from $360,000 in 2008 to $359,900 last year. There was a healthy boost in sales activity: Some 43 homes sold in that quarter, up from 33 homes in the same quarter the year before.


WHY IT'S HOT

"I think the community has a great school district that looks to excel in academics and athletics," says Christopher Armstrong of Century 21 Princeton Properties in Holbrook. For example, 20 Sachem high school teams received the New York State Scholar/Athlete Team Award for the fall 2009 season. He says the diversity of the housing appeals to many types of buyers, from first-timers to snowbirds. "They can buy a one-family home or a condominium. It has development-style living with curbs and sidewalks ... then it also has very countrified settings," he says. "There's ease with transportation," adds Armstrong, citing the town's proximity to the Long Island

Expressway, Sunrise Highway, the Ronkonkoma Long Island Rail Road station and Long Island MacArthur Airport.


RECENT HOME SALE

This five-bedroom, three-bathroom high-ranch at 7 13th St. sold Sept. 8 for $375,000. It was listed May 20 for $398,750, then reduced to $379,750.

EAST ISLIP

 WHERE IT IS

East Islip is on the South Shore of Suffolk County. It's bordered by Sayville, Oakdale, Islip, Central Islip and Islip Terrace. Nearby attractions include Heckscher State Park and the Bayard Cutting Arboretum.

 

WHAT THE NUMBERS SHOW

East Islip enjoyed a surge both in sales activity and home values in the third quarter of 2009. The median sale price shot up from $360,000 to $415,000 - an impressive 15 percent increase over the third quarter of 2008. There were 31 homes sold that quarter, up from 19 homes during the same period the previous year.


WHY IT'S HOT

The sense of community in East Islip is what draws younger generations back to buy homes in the place where they were raised, says Gail Bishop of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate in East Islip, adding that newcomers also are attracted to the neighborhood. "When you buy here, you buy not for investment, but for a place to live, a lifestyle," she says. That lifestyle includes beaches, parks and activities, says Bishop. "We have Fire Island a 20-minute ferry ride away. We have Robert Moses a 20-minute ride. We have Heckscher State Park. ... Besides the pool, it has a bay front, and I think that's what attracts people."


RECENT HOME SALE

 This three-bedroom, two-bath ranch at 25 Gwendolyn Pl. sold Jan. 8 for $450,000. It originally was listed June 30 for $469,999.

EAST ROCKAWAY

WHERE IT IS

East Rockaway is in western Nassau County on the south shore of the Rockaway Peninsula. Its surrounding communities are Hewlett, Woodmere, Cedarhurst, Lynbrook, Rockville Centre and Oceanside. East Rockaway is in the Town of Hempstead and includes an incorporated village and the unincorporated waterfront area of Bay Park.

 

WHAT THE NUMBERS SAY

In the third quarter of 2009, 20 homes sold in East Rockaway, and the median sale price was $405,000 - an 8 percent increase from $375,000 during the same quarter the previous year. In 2008, 21 homes sold in the third quarter.

 

WHY IT'S HOT

Affordable homes, reasonable taxes and a small-town vibe draw buyers to East Rockaway, says Gregory Verity, licensed broker associate and general manager of Century 21 Mac Levitt Realty in Oceanside. Cooperative buildings near the community's two Long Island Rail Road stations are popular with commuters, he says. "It's perfect for people who are professionals. They like the city, but they want to live on the Island," he says, adding it's about a 44-minute train ride to Manhattan. Verity says the school district attracts buyers as well: The U.S. Department of Education named Center Avenue Elementary School a National Blue Ribbon School in 2009.


RECENT HOME SALE

This three-bedroom, 11/2-bath Cape at 3Squirrel Dr. sold Oct. 19 for $425,000. It was listed May 11 for $449,000 and later reduced to $429,900.

GREAT NECK

WHERE IT IS

Great Neck is at the western edge of Nassau County. Its neighboring communities are New Hyde Park, Sands Point, Plandome, Manhasset and Little Neck in Queens. It's a 17-mile drive or a 22-minute train ride to midtown Manhattan, says June Shapiro of June Shapiro Laffey Associates in Greenvale. North Shore, Winthrop and Long Island Jewish hospitals are nearby. The Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy, Adelphi University and the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University are the closest colleges.


WHAT THE NUMBERS SHOW

The median sale price for the University Gardens section of Great Neck in the third quarter of 2009 was $1.15 million - that's an 18 percent increase from $972,500 the same quarter the year before. Sales activity slowed, with the number of homes sold for those periods dipping from 29 to 19. The median sale price for all of Great Neck in the third quarter of 2008 was $970,000; in 2009, it went down to $875,000, says Phillip Laffey of Laffey Associates.


WHY IT'S HOT

"It's as close to the city as you can get, without any of the problems," says Shapiro. "It's a small-town atmosphere with big-time stuff going on. They have art shows, they have everything. There's fabulous shopping. The schools are fantastic."

 
RECENT HOME SALE

This five-bedroom, four-bathroom expanded ranch at 29 Somerset Dr. S. sold Dec. 14 for $1.248 million. It was listed May 28 for $1.695 million and later reduced to $1.599 million.

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