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Long Island home sales drop in April despite buyer's market

Two homes are for sale, side by side,

Two homes are for sale, side by side, in North Lindenhurst, Thursday, March 20, 2014. Credit: Steve Pfost

Long Island home sales took a dive last month.

The number of transactions fell year-over-year by 19.7 percent in Nassau County, with 633 homes changing hands, according to a report Friday by the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island. Closed sales dropped by 10.3 percent in Suffolk County, where 739 homes were sold.

The decline in closed sales reflects the relatively low number of contracts signed in January and February, when the region was hit by a spate of winter storms.

It was the second month of year-over-year slackening of home sales; in March, transactions fell by 10 percent in Nassau and 1 percent in Suffolk, the listing service reported.

"You're talking about transactions taking place during the middle of probably one of the worst winters we've ever had," said Joe Moshé, owner of Plainview-based Charles Rutenberg Realty.

Despite the slower activity, prices for closed home sales rose in both counties. Nassau homes sold for a median price of $410,000, up 5.7 percent compared with the same period last year. In Suffolk, the typical home sold for $301,000, an annual gain of 0.7 percent.

The housing market has picked up in areas hurt by superstorm Sandy, which hit the Island on Oct. 29, 2012. There are now occasional bidding wars for homes north of Montauk Highway, said Mary Ann Murphy, broker/owner of Call Murf Real Estate in Lindenhurst.

Properties south of Montauk Highway, Murphy said, "are selling at a discount but they're selling, whereas before they weren't even moving."

Across the Island, pending sales were also weak in April, even though the weather improved.

In Nassau, buyers signed 1,068 contracts last month, an annual decline of almost 1 percent. In Suffolk, 1,229 homes went into contract, down almost 4 percent.

Sales activity, however, has picked up in May, brokers said.

"We're getting a lot of closings this month, and I think you're going to see numbers in May that are going to easily take up the 10 percent and 20 percent reduction that you saw in April," Moshé said.

In both counties, the market tipped in favor of buyers last month. It would take 11.2 months to sell the 7,101 homes for sale in Nassau at the current pace of sales. In Suffolk it would take 13.7 months to sell the 10,148 listed homes. A balanced real estate market has about a six-month supply of homes.

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