It seems like a reachable goal — to find a single-family house in the $400,000 price range.
But on Long Island, where the median home price is $50,000 to $150,000 more, it can be a challenge.
Sellers have a lot of negotiating power, but buyers have things on their side, too, especially low interest rates. And the buyers are out in droves finding that perfect house.
“During a pandemic, people need to shelter in place,” says real estate agent Joanne Mills, owner of Exit Family Realty in Lindenhurst, who recently had an in-person showing where 45 people showed up forming a line down the walkway. “Well, people need a home to shelter.”
Still, real estate agents say there are plenty in that $400,000 range to fit just anyone’s needs; even if it means one that may need some cosmetic help in the highly desirable school district of Mount Sinai, or a small but beautifully renovated home in Lindenhurst, an easy commute to New York City.
Even in Long Beach, where homes close to the beach can hit the million-dollar mark, a fully renovated 1,000-square-foot house with three bedrooms is only a short half-mile walk from the boardwalk.
But, be quick. Good houses at $400,000 do not stay on the market for long.
In Nassau County, the median price for sold residential homes (which include multifamily homes) was $561,250, gaining a fast-growing $11,000 over a two-year period (June 2018-June 2020). In Suffolk County, in the same time frame, residential homes jumped $47,000 to a high in June 2020 of $450,000.
Real estate agents say homes are getting snatched up more quickly than in recent history. Houses on the market just one day are getting multiple offers, they say.
“If you price it right, you’ll get a lot more, because people are coming in with full priced offers,” says Dean Graber of Keller Williams Realty Landmark in Bayside, Queens, who sells homes in Nassau County, as well.
Historically low interest rates and the desire to get out of more congested areas, like the city boroughs, and into a home with a backyard, seems to be the main driving force for the real estate boom, brokers say.
In Lindenhurst, for example, where many residents are essential workers such as teachers, firefighters and police officers, “the market has always been hot,” Mills says. “We can’t keep inventory.”
Exit Family Realty had 22 contracts in June. “We had four months of inventory before COVID," Mills says. "Now it’s two-and-a-half months.”
Another change in the homebuying shows a difference from just a year ago. Buyers then were looking for totally renovated homes. Now, they are willing to overlook things that they had not before, due to the lack of inventory, real estate agents say. Buyers are less fussy, because “they just want to get into a home,” Graber says.
Max Ganeshram, 50, of Jamaica, Queens, has been looking on Long Island for a while. He and his wife have two young adult sons, 22 and 19, and now want a bigger home with a two-car garage. Despite a budget ceiling of $600,000, he still got outbid on a property.
“It happened two weeks ago,” he says. “We went $16,000 over list price and still didn’t get it … The market is a little tough.”
Still, despite what appears to be a strong seller's market, listing agents tell buyers not to be discouraged, because there are still good homes out there. Here are four homes at or near $400,000 with annual property taxes of $10,000 or less:
Lindenhurst: Kitchen's a catch
$399,000, 670 N. Broome Ave.
Size: Three bedrooms, one bathroom
Annual taxes: Under $8,000, including village tax
Description: The ranch home has great value, with a high-end kitchen with black stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops and large island. The home also has a renovated bath with subway tiles, solar panels (leased), a one-car garage and a large detached barn in the large backyard.
“The kitchen is beautiful, and it’s a big property,” Mills says. The house already has an offer, and there is more interest. “It is great affordability.”
Long Beach: Sea's the limit
$399,900, 58 E. Pine St.
Size: Three bedrooms, 1½ bathrooms
Annual taxes: $6,200
Description: This home has been completely renovated with new hardwood floors and new kitchen cabinets with Silestone countertops. It is close to everything — only a short walk to Park Avenue shopping, minutes to the train station, and only about a half-mile walk to the beach and boardwalk.
“This is a great house for someone starting out or downsizing,” says agent Neil Tevez of Strough Associates Team at Compass in Westhampton Beach. “In today’s society, with what’s going on … it’s wonderful to be in close proximity to the beach and a short commute to Manhattan.”
Mount Sinai: A yard ahead
$400,000, 12 Falmouth Dr.
Size: Three bedrooms, two bathrooms
Annual taxes: $8,600
Description: The house may need some cosmetic repairs, but there is a lot going for it, including a half-acre property sporting a large backyard with mature trees. And the taxes are low for the North Shore mideastern Suffolk area.
The house has central air conditioning, a working fireplace, and two garages — one for two cars and another for one car (the owner is getting the certificate of occupancy for the two-car garage.)
“It needs some work, but it’s a great house to make your own,” says Jason Furnari, the listing agent with Exit Realty Island Elite in Port Jefferson Station.
Mount Sinai is a highly rated school district, which makes the area more desirable.
Freeport: Nautical feel
$399,000, 57 Norton St.
Size: Three bedrooms, two bathrooms
Annual taxes: $6,300 including village tax
Description: Close to the Nautical Mile, which is known for its seafood restaurants and fish markets, the split-level home has an updated master suite with a large walk-in closet and home office, new windows, and a large extension on the back making this home about 5,000 square feet.
“The whole neighborhood has a nautical feel,” says real estate agent Jenna Delaney of Century 21 American Homes in Long Beach.
What $400,000 buys outside Long Island
Moving from, New York City to Long Island isn’t the only migration taking place. Many Long Islanders are moving out of state to less populated areas where money can go further.
According to census data, those in the Northeast are moving South and West, with New Yorkers contributing to the most influx to Florida, for example. However, some people are moving even farther north.
Here are some homes in states where Long Islanders are moving:
Delray Beach, Florida: Taxes go south
6388 San Michel Way
A popular place for retiring New Yorkers, it would be hard to not find Long Islanders in your condo association pool or playing golf at a nearby club. Unlike other places to retire, Delray is not inexpensive, but taxes are lower as are other costs. This completely renovated house in the Polo Club association, priced at $399,900, has three bedrooms and three baths. Annual taxes last year were at $3,300.
Scarborough, Maine: Almost Portland
4 Alger Dr.
If you don’t mind the cold, this suburban community is just outside the city of Portland, a seacoast community known for its bustling shops and restaurants, artistic vibe, and great schools. This three-bedroom, 1½-bath Colonial sits on a quarter-acre and is close to beaches. The house is listed at $399,000, and annual taxes are about $5,000.
Charlotte, North Carolina: Comfort zone
6526 Kentdale Ct.
Young families and retirees from all over are flocking to North Carolina, and Charlotte is one of the fastest growing communities in the state. Lovely homes priced right, low taxes, plenty of parks and good schools are just some of the reasons people are packing up and heading South to this town. This 2,255-square-foot Colonial, listed for $400,000, has four bedrooms and three bathrooms, a high-end kitchen, a working fireplace and two-car garage. Annual taxes are about $3,100.