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Median home sale prices mixed in region

A new home still under construction is seen

A new home still under construction is seen for sale. (June 25, 2012) Credit: AP

Suffolk County home prices are up for the first time in more than a year.

Suffolk's median sale price showed a year-over-year gain in June for the first time in at least 12 months, even as prices dropped in Nassau County, according to a new report.

The median price of homes sold in Suffolk rose 4.8 percent to $325,000 last month, compared with a year earlier, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Friday. There were slightly fewer sales than last June -- 907, down 1.3 percent. Homes going into contract last month had a median price of $309,000, up almost 1 percent from a year ago.

In Nassau, homes fetched a median price of $402,500 in June, down 1.8 percent from a year earlier. Activity was up, with 915 sales closing, nearly 2 percent more than in June 2011. The median contract price was $411,500 last month, 2.6 percent higher than a year earlier.

The dreary economy may be prompting buyers to favor Suffolk, said Joe Moshé, broker-owner of Plainview-based Charles Rutenberg Realty.

Buyers, he said, "would rather travel 20 minutes farther or half an hour farther to get more value in a home. They're still fearful of the economy, so they don't want to spend more than they have to spend."

Historically low interest rates are drawing in first-time home buyers, including some who had been living with their parents, said Gary Baumann, a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman in Syosset and Dix Hills. Overpriced or poorly maintained homes linger on the market, but when first-time buyers see a home in good condition for a fair price, he said, "they're pulling the trigger."

The number of homes on the market dropped in both counties in June, compared with a year earlier, the listing service reported. There were 12,083 homes for sale in Suffolk, a 12 percent drop, and 9,130 in Nassau, a decline of 13.5 percent.

It's still a buyer's market, even if there's less inventory, said Claudia Cesare, a broker with Signature Premier Properties in Huntington.

It could be that homeowners have finally accepted that their properties are worth far less than they used to be and they are avoiding a sale if they possibly can, she said: "Maybe they're choosing not to sell when they find out the reality of what they're going to get."

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