Long Island’s housing market tipped in favor of sellers last month, as the pace of sales sped up and the number of listings shrank.
Suffolk County homes sold for a median price of $355,000 in August, a gain of 2.9 percent compared with a year earlier, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Tuesday. The number of sales in Suffolk increased by 18 percent year-over-year, with 1,735 closed transactions in August.
In Nassau County, last month’s median sales price of $489,000 marked a 4.4 percent annual increase. There were 1,465 closed sales, 2.7 percent more than a year earlier.
Brokers cautioned that while competition is fierce for well-maintained, moderately priced homes, luxury listings have become a harder sell.
With rental prices rising and interest rates near historic lows, more young adults see the benefits of buying — and a growing number are looking in Suffolk, where prices are lower than in Nassau, said Steven Weizel, sales manager with Century 21 Dallow Realty in Farmingdale and North Bellmore.
“It makes much more sense for them to own instead of renting,” Weizel said. “Very often the monthly payments on the house they’re buying are less than what they’d be paying in rent.”
The average interest rate for a fixed-rate, 30-year home loan was 3.44 percent last month, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported.
First-time buyers are getting into bidding wars for move-in-ready houses listed at $400,000 or less, though higher-priced properties often linger on the market, said Barbara Wanamaker, owner of Prime Properties Long Island in Huntington.
A “cute, little” three-bedroom Kings Park home listed for $379,000 drew 25 prospective buyers to a recent open house, and the seller accepted an offer for more than the asking price the same day, Wanamaker said.
The competition is due in part to a scarcity of listings. Islandwide, there were 14,306 homes listed for sale in August, a year-over-year decline of nearly 20 percent.
At that selling pace, it would take just five months to sell all listed homes in Suffolk, and 3.9 months in Nassau — the lowest levels in at least five years, listing service figures show.
A balanced real estate market has a six- to eight-month supply, brokers say.
Weizel said he advises buyers to get preapproval letters from mortgage lenders. “Many of them have lost houses while they were waiting to find out what they could buy or qualify for,” he said.