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Home prices, sales rise in Nassau, but Suffolk lags

A "for sale" sign stands outside a home

A "for sale" sign stands outside a home in Princeton, Ill., on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Credit: Bloomberg / Daniel Acker

Nassau County’s housing market is on the rise, more than a year after superstorm Sandy devastated the region.

Homes in Nassau fetched a median price of $430,000 in January, up 7.5 percent from a year earlier, according to a report Friday by the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island.

Suffolk’s real estate market, which wasn’t hit as hard by Sandy, did not show the same strength. There, the median price edged up to $313,000 last month, a year-over-year rise of 1 percent.

In January 2013, Long Island was coping with the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 29, 2012, storm. However, the housing market in Nassau County last month posted gains even in comparison with previous Januaries. Traditionally a slow time for home sales, last month was Nassau’s strongest January for home values since 2008, when the median price was $440,000.

In Long Beach, which was especially hard-hit by the storm, the housing market “is coming back, one day at a time,” said Joyce Coletti, an agent with Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

“Sandy hit, people panicked and they literally gave away their properties,” Coletti said. “Now people are coming to their senses and they’re asking higher prices.”

In another indicator of health, the number of homes sold in Nassau rose by nearly 14 percent last month, to 749 — the most January home sales since 2007, when 826 residences sold in the first month of the year.

However, Coletti said the rising cost of flood insurance “is taking a big bite out of the real estate market in any waterfront community.”

In Suffolk County, home sales dropped last month by nearly 9 percent year-over-year, to 758.

In Nassau, it would take 7.5 months to sell all homes listed for sale, at the current selling pace. In Suffolk, it would take 11.3 months.

Last month’s severe winter storms delayed some home sales, but overall the market has been busy, said Deborah Galligan, owner of Marylou Swan Realty Corp. in East Patchogue.

Low — but rising — interest rates have attracted many first-time buyers, Galligan said. This week, the average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.28 percent, up from 3.53 percent a year before, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

Galligan expects to list 14 homes that are awaiting construction approvals, under construction or newly built — the most since 2005, she said.

“The builders’ confidence, I believe, is up,” she said. “Any new construction we’ve put up, we’ve sold.”

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