A dwindling supply of homes drove up Long Island home prices last month, a new report shows.
In Nassau County, the median home price was $470,000 in December, up 8 percent compared with a year earlier, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Wednesday.
In Suffolk County, homes sold for a median price of $336,000, a year-over-year increase of 3.4 percent.
Across the Island, 10,420 homes were listed for sale last month, 23 percent fewer than in December 2015. The last time supply was so low was in December 2002. By contrast, in December 2007 — at the start of the 2007-2009 recession — there were more than 26,000 homes on the market.
Demand is strong as millennials — those up to about age 35 — move out of New York City and house-hunt on Long Island, brokers said.
“They enjoyed that lifestyle but now they’re looking for something they can get equity in,” said Judy Hart, owner of Rockville Centre-based Century 21 Sherlock Homes. In Rockville Centre, she said, “they have an easy commute into the city plus they have the village. You don’t have to go far to get to a restaurant or to have a sense of community.”
More budget-minded buyers are looking in Suffolk County, said Anna Tambasco, owner of Advantage + Realty in Copiague.
“In Suffolk County you can get two teachers buying with no money down,” Tambasco said. “Nassau County is still up there in price . . . That will be their step up.”
In both counties, the supply of homes is frustratingly low, brokers said.
At the current pace of sales, it would take 3.7 months to sell all the homes listed for sale in Nassau. In Suffolk, it would take 4.6 months. A sellers’ market has less than a six- to eight-month supply of homes, according to brokers.
The number of closed transactions fell year-over-year last month by 2.4 percent in Nassau and rose by 3.7 percent in Suffolk.
Homeowners who bought at the peak of the market — in mid-2007, prices spiked to a median $502,500 in Nassau and $420,000 in Suffolk — still don’t have enough equity to move on to another home, said Deborah Galligan, owner of Marylou Swan Realty in East Patchogue.
On Long Island, 4.7 percent of homeowners with mortgages owed more than their homes were worth in the July-through-September period, the most recent report from national data company CoreLogic shows.
“People say, ‘I’m going to wait a little longer for things to go up,’ ” Galligan said. “Maybe when they retire in two years things will be better.”
The scarcity of listings also is due to homeowners’ reluctance to list their houses over the holidays, brokers said.
Traditionally, “everyone waits for the tulips,” Galligan said. “We’ve been calling people to see if we can push them along . . . They’ll have less competition.”