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Long Island housing market allowing some to 'trade up' their homes

The Saposnicks are selling their Holtsville home to

The Saposnicks are selling their Holtsville home to buy a new one with more room for the family. Credit: James Carbone

Larry and Erin Saposnick were thrilled when their first child came along. The same with their second. And their third, five years ago. But now their three-bedroom Holtsville home is beginning to feel a bit cramped.

“We didn’t know we would have three kids,” says Larry Saposnick, 42, a math teacher. “They’re closing in on us.”

This is the main reason they have decided it’s time to trade up to a larger place. They are looking for a home with an open kitchen and dining room, a basement, maybe a pool and some decent-sized bedrooms for the kids. They are asking $449,990 for their current home — and looking to purchase a new one in the $600,000 range. “We’ve been saving and have decent equity in the house, so we want to capitalize on that,” says Saposnick, who purchased the home in 2005.

Homeowners with houses in the $300,000-to-$600,000 range are responsible for most of the trade-up moves on Long Island, according to real estate agents. Much of it has to do with the vicissitudes of the housing market, says Jonathan Miller, chief executive of the Manhattan-based appraisal firm Miller Samuel. Values have risen for Long Island homes in the low and middle ranges during the past two years, while the market has softened for high-end residences, he says. This compressed spread means that Long Islanders with lower-priced homes have more money proportionately and can consider making the jump to a higher-priced home, says Miller.

“I’m not saying it’s easy,” he says. “But the math makes more sense than it did a few years ago.”

Russ Bonanno Jr., an agent and manager of Bon Anno Homes Realty in Massapequa, says people who bought a home just after the market collapse in 2009 and have waited to sell until now are “cleaning up.” He had one seller in that category who got 17 offers for the home and sold it in one week.

Yadlynd Cherubin-Eide, an agent with Keller Williams Realty in Garden City, says she has seen rapid sales for homes in the $400,000-to-$500,000 range, mostly for people who want to move up and have suddenly realized the value of their home has risen.

One of her clients bought a home for $300,000 two years ago that is worth $450,000 today, she says. 

“People who purchased those homes in the last two or three years are letting them go and getting the home they originally wanted,” she says.

The same goes for Dan Curro, 42, who runs a fishing and paddle board charter company in Hampton Bays, and his wife, Elyse, 38, who teaches yoga.

“We didn’t want to miss this opportunity,” says Dan.

Their first home in Hampton Bays was a fixer-upper that took some effort to complete over the years, he says. But the improvements hiked up its value, just as they hoped.

“We were fortunate enough to make the right decision eight years ago, although we thought we were crazy at the time,” he says.

They are in negotiations to buy another home that they say also needs work, but they particularly like the location, they say. It’s closer to the beach, and they believe it is worth another renovation both as a place to live and as another investment.

Being closer to the water was the incentive for Delia Serrano, an agent at Coach Realtors in Rockville Centre, and her physician husband, Carlos, to make their trade-up move. The value of the home they owned in Baldwin for 17 years increased “terrifically” over that time, she says. They listed it for $619,000, and the home is in contract above the asking price.

“It was very hot,” she says. “We had 10 offers on the house.”

Recently, they bought a home only a few miles away for just under $1 million that will allow them to remain in the area and stay in the same Roman Catholic parish, she says. At the same time, the location will help them fulfill a longtime wish of living on a canal.

“My husband will have a place to park his boat. We’re looking to buy a kayak and a Jet Ski," she says. "It’s going to be a whole new lifestyle.”


Timing and preparation are the keys to a good trade-up. For one thing, try to sell your existing home first, before securing a new one, Long Island real estate agents say. Selling and searching simultaneously can be risky, since you might not be able to sell the old home in time to close the deal on the new one.

Also, be aware that if you are moving to a larger home, you likely will have increased monthly expenses, such as utility bills, points out Russ Bonanno Jr., an agent and manager of Bon Anno Homes Realty in Massapequa. You also might have to factor in landscaping as well as lawn and pool maintenance, he adds.

Yadlynd Cherubin-Eide, an agent with Keller Williams Realty in Garden City, advises her clients to focus on a location and a price range, get preapproved for a loan and have down-payment money in hand so you can move fast on a bargain. And make sure what you are looking at is financially realistic, she says.

“In this market, if you are getting top dollar for your current home, be prepared to pay top dollar for your dream home,” she says.

Delia Serrano, an agent at Coach Realtors in Rockville Centre, advises looking at “the bigger picture” before deciding to trade up. For instance, Nassau County’s new property tax assessments may hit homes in upscale areas more than others, she says. Also, those looking to move closer to the water should check if the property has suffered storm damage and, if so, that repairs were officially approved.


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