Long Island's housing market picked up steam last month, as transactions delayed by superstorm Sandy in November took place in December.

The storm's long-term effect on home sales is uncertain.

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Home sales and prices rose in December, according to a report released Monday by the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island.

Nassau County homes sold for a median price of $400,000, up 5.3 percent from December 2011. The median home price in Suffolk County was $314,500, a year-over-year increase of 4.8 percent.

There were more sales last month in Suffolk County, where 910 homes changed hands, up 11.4 percent from the previous December. In Nassau County, 800 homes were sold, up 7 percent.

The number of homes going into contract rose by 3.3 percent year over year in Nassau, to 660. Pending sales activity fell by 1.3 percent year over year in Suffolk, to 676.

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Many home sales set for November were delayed until last month because of the storm's aftermath, said Barbara Wanamaker, a broker with Douglas Elliman in Huntington. "Anybody who was thinking about selling a house at that point had to put it on hold," she said.

The homes that sold in December typically went into contract about three months before, so the prices and activity do not reflect the impact of the storm, said Jerry O'Neill, broker/owner of Coldwell Banker Harbor Light in Amity Harbor.

O'Neill said many buyers are interested in buying storm-damaged homes in "as is" condition, at a discount.

However, if the price of home insurance rises in coastal areas following the storm, the market in those areas could be hurt, said Andy Yakubovsky, manager of Century 21 Prevete Bastone in Massapequa.

In December, the number of homes on the market fell year over year in both counties. There were 6,161 listings in Nassau, a decline of nearly 25 percent compared with December 2011.

In Suffolk County, 8,963 homes were listed, a 17 percent year-over-year decline.

"The first-time home buyers are coming out again; they're kind of fighting each other to get a house because inventory is much lower," Yakubovsky said. "On the flip side, mortgages are still not easy to get."



December 2011 median price: $380,000

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December 2012 median price: $400,000

Change: +5.3%

December 2011 number of sales:747

December 2012 number of sales: 800

Change: +7.1%

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December 2011 median price: $300,000

December 2012 median price: $314,500

Change: +4.8%

December 2011 number of sales: 817

December 2012 number of sales: 910

Change: +11.4%

SOURCE: Multiple Listing Service of Long Island