Home prices jumped in Suffolk County and held steady Nassau County last month, as bargain-seeking buyers looked for more affordable properties.
The median home price in Suffolk rose to $380,000 in February, up 7 percent from a year earlier, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Thursday. Nassau’s median home price was $505,000, unchanged from the same period in 2018, the listing service reported.
"Right now, buyers are going to get value in Suffolk County, so that's where many of them go," said Joe Moshé, broker/owner of Plainview-based Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. "A $700,000 home in Nassau could be $400,000 in Suffolk."
In both counties, declining sales and growing inventory gave buyers a bit more leverage in negotiations.
The number of closed home sales fell, year over year, by almost 3 percent in Suffolk and 2.4 percent in Nassau, listing service figures show. At the same time, the number of homes listed for sale increased by 1.5 percent in Suffolk and nearly 13 percent in Nassau, compared with a year earlier.
One local broker said the market has slowed slightly because buyers and sellers are wary of what will happen when they file their taxes.
"A lot of people depend on tax refunds, and they're not getting it this year," said Barbara Wanamaker, owner of Prime Properties Long Island in Huntington. "Everyone is being careful. But I'm optimistic that as the weather gets nicer, and we get past April 15, the market will pick up further."
In both counties, it would take a little more than six months to sell all the listed homes at the current pace of sales. Over the previous two years, inventory had often dipped as low as a three- to four-month supply of homes. Brokers say a balanced market has a six- to eight-month supply.
Looking at the number of sale contracts signed last month, buyers seem to be flocking to Suffolk County. The number of pending sales increased year over year by 12.3 percent in Suffolk, while the number of pending sales in Nassau held steady from a year earlier, the listing service reported.