A homebuyer with a quarter-million dollars to spend might suffer from sticker shock when first confronted with Long Island’s median home prices — $505,000 in Nassau County and $365,000 in Suffolk in June, according to data from the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island.
But don’t despair: Remember that the median, by definition, is higher than half the home prices out there — meaning that buyers with more modest budgets can and do find plenty of options. In fact, a recent search of MLSLI.com reveals that there are nearly 2,000 homes for sale listed at $250,000 or less.
This year in Newsday’s annual Best Places to Live series, each feature will explore what’s available in a particular price range. In this installment, we highlight some of the best places on Long Island to raise a family, enjoy the waterfront, retire, or buy a home as a single or couple, all for $250,000 or less.
If you want a waterfront community, try Freeport
This South Shore village, a perennial favorite of water and boat lovers of all stripes, recently won a $25,000 grant to host the state’s first Water Trail and Tourism Summit, an event next spring designed to promote eco-tourism and build support for New York’s water trails. Locals and visitors enjoy Freeport’s waterfront at county parks, such as the Milburn Creek Boat Basin — newly reopened after a $4 million upgrade that included a new vinyl bulkhead and a Brazilian walnut boardwalk — or the scenic Cow Meadow Park and Preserve, home of an annual canoe race. This photo is from July 28, 2017.
If spending a day on a fishing charter (or an evening on a sunset cruise) is what you love, you’ll find it along Freeport’s Woodcleft Canal. And for a waterfront social scene, “it has the Nautical Mile, with all the shops and restaurants, where everybody walks around,” says Heidi Fehn of Charles Rutenberg Realty. “People eat out there all summer long.” This fishing charter was heading to dock on the Woodcleft Canal on July 28, 2017.
In a recent search of MLSLI.com, there were 10 waterfront properties listed for $250,000 or less, including four single-family houses and six co-ops with monthly maintenance fees ranging from $889 to $1,209. In total, there were 53 homes on the market in this price range. Overall, there were 213 homes on the market in Freeport, ranging in price from $63,000 for a studio co-op to $979,000 for a two-bedroom waterfront Contemporary home.
At 1,140 square feet, this newly remodeled home is the largest one-bedroom waterfront co-op in the Town’n Harbor complex. The unit, priced at $235,000 in August 2017, has one bathroom and features hardwood floors and a private terrace. The complex has a new dock and bulkhead, and residence here includes docking rights for an additional fee. Monthly maintenance is $955. The home is listed with Heidi Fehn of Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. (516-575-7500).
From the Woodcleft Canal in Freeport to the leisurely ways of Ridge, here are some of best places to find homes in the $250,000 range.
If you are retiring, look into Ridge
Ridge is home to a number of active adult communities offering amenities such as clubhouses, shuffleboard, swimming pools and bus service. Leisure Village, for those 55 and older, is a long-established community, and even has its own nine-hole golf course. In 2013, the Leisure Village band performed big band music in the village clubhouse.
Nestled near the protected Long Island Central Pine Barrens, rural, relaxing Ridge offers a quiet respite where retirees can escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, horseback riding or hunting. Nature lovers can spot wildlife along the trails through the wooded Ridge Conservation Area. Sporting folks can practice skeet shooting and trap shooting at the Long Island Shooting Range of Brookhaven, and archers can hunt in season at nearby Brookhaven State Park. For those who are so inclined there is the Ruff Mutter Obstacle Course at Fireman's Park. This competition took place Oct. 4, 2014
In a recent search of MLSLI.com, there were 52 homes for sale for $250,000 or less, including 27 condos with monthly maintenance fees ranging from $165 to $371. Overall, there were 109 homes for sale in Ridge, ranging from $65,000 for a two-bedroom co-op with a $165 monthly maintenance fee to $659,000 for a six-bedroom Victorian house.
This sunny two-bedroom, one-bathroom condo is in Leisure Village, an active 55-and-over community with a heated outdoor pool, a nine-hole golf course, clubhouse activities, free bus service and 24-hour security. The newly renovated single-story home features an open floor plan with granite kitchen countertops and new appliances. Asking price is $229,000 in August 2017. Taxes with STAR exemption are $2,642; the monthly maintenance fee is $370.
The home is listed with Joy Bryant of Little Bay Realty (631-929-8400).
If you are single, check out Great Neck
You wouldn’t think $250,000 would be enough to gain entree into Great Neck, a community that earned three spots on the Forbes list of most expensive ZIP codes in the country last year. But if you’ll be living alone or à deux and don’t need multiple bedrooms, there are currently about a dozen Great Neck co-ops in that price range, with monthly maintenance fees ranging from $385 to $820, according to a recent search of MLSLI.com. This was Promenade Night in Great Neck August 2015.
“There are so many good things about Great Neck for a couple or a single, or somebody just starting fresh on their own life and coming out of the basement of their parents’ home,” says Nahid Akins of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
Some of the main attractions she cites are the quick train ride to New York City — peak trains take about 24 to 40 minutes, according to the Long Island Rail Road schedule — and abundant local amenities such as parks and community events.
“You have the beach, the Long Island Sound. You have the beautiful Middle Neck Road shops that are very famous,” Akins says. “And the diversity really makes it unique. That’s the best thing about it. We have everybody, and that is wonderful.” This photo is from July 26, 2017.
Overall, MLSLI.com lists home prices in Great Neck ranging from $150,000 for a studio with a $385 monthly maintenance fee to $22 million for a seven-bedroom Tudor-style estate with views of the Manhattan skyline and the Long Island Sound.
This one-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op is in the Great Neck Terrace community, where the amenities include outdoor swimming pools, sports courts, a playground and a dog run. The unit, on the market in August 2017 for $236,000, features ceramic tile and hardwood floors, granite kitchen countertops and updated appliances. The monthly maintenance fee is $784. The home is listed with Nahid Akins of Douglas Elliman Real Estate (516-627-2800).
If you want a single-family house, look into Sound Beach
It’s not that easy to find detached single-family homes on a $250,000 budget on Long Island — but in a recent search of MLSLI.com, there were 22 of them in Sound Beach, ranging from two-bedroom to four-bedroom homes.
Once a summer retreat, Sound Beach has retained its charm even as it has grown into a year-round community. “It’s just a quaint little country kind of community. There are cute little restaurants,” says Linda Stowell of Coach Realtors at Port Jefferson. “There are still a lot of little homes, but people have put a lot of money into the area and building up these houses.” This is Woodhull Landing Beach on the western edge of the hamlet in August 2009.
While there were no waterfront homes in the $250,000 price range, residents on modest budgets can still enjoy the Long Island Sound. “It’s a beach community,” Stowell says. “There are different beaches where you can pay to be a member. It’s very inexpensive.”
For example, the annual membership dues are $275 for the Sound Beach Property Owners’ Association, a private club offering beach access, parklands and a clubhouse. There are also Brookhaven Town Parks like this one that has a playground and sitting area. The photo is from September 2012.
Overall, there were 51 homes listed in Sound Beach, with prices ranging from $119,000 for a two-bedroom cottage in disrepair to $799,000 for a waterfront property with two separate two-bedroom homes, according to a recent search of MLSLI.com.
This two-bedroom, 1½-bathroom Colonial features a beamed cathedral ceiling in the master bedroom, and an updated bathroom. It is listed in August 2017 for $238,000, The landscaped 0.23-acre hillside property features a private backyard patio and in-ground sprinklers. The house is listed with Alexis Veryzer of NOFO Real Estate, LLC (631-298-7953).
If you want to rent, look at Valley Stream
The monthly mortgage payment for a $250,000 house might be in the ballpark of $1,800, as calculated using online mortgage estimation tools from the government-sponsored mortgage enterprise Freddie Mac. But rentals in general are few and far between on Long Island, and the lower the rent, the lower the inventory.
In fact, renters on an $1,800 monthly budget will find fewer than 200 rentals for $1,800 or less across Nassau and Suffolk counties, according to a recent search of MLSLI.com. Though rental inventory changes quickly, there were recently nine in this price range in Valley Stream, including one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.
Overall, there were 18 rentals available in Valley Stream in a recent search of MLSLI.com. Prices ranged from $1,500 for a one-bedroom co-op with one bathroom to $3,500 for a four-bedroom house with two bathrooms. And if you decide you’re ready to buy after all, there are five homes for sale in Valley Stream for $250,000 or less, ranging from $119,000 for a one-bedroom co-op to $159,000 for a two-bedroom co-op. Home prices overall ranged up to $999,000 for a seven-bedroom split.
About 20 of the units in the Valley Park Estates co-op are periodically rented, although the 438-unit co-op complex is largely owner-occupied, according to co-op manager Jose Pastrana. One-bedroom units range from $1,500 to $1,600 and two-bedroom units run from $1,900 to $2,000. In a recent search of MLSLI.com there were two one-bedroom units available for $1,550 and $1,600; at press time, both had been rented. To be added to a waitlist, call 516-285-6699.
Popular local events include summer concerts and an annual street fair in the fall. There are several parks in town, including the village’s Arthur J. Hendrickson Park, which has swimming pools, sports courts and miniature golf. On July 26, 2017, Sadi Ozelge dances with his daughter at an outdoor concert s on the Village Green.
Renters in Valley Stream get a lot of convenience for the price; it’s a mercifully short train ride — just over a half-hour to Penn Station — and a bustling business district along Rockaway Avenue has pubs, restaurants and retail. There is “lots of shopping close by, and a mall that they are always improving,” says Barbara Gunn of Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Green Acres Commons, an outdoor shopping center next to the Green Acres Mall, has brought new retail to the area since it opened last year. These commuters had arrived in Valley Stream on July 26, 2017.