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Nassau, Suffolk home sales grew 9% in April

Audrey Shapin of Massapequa tours an open house

Audrey Shapin of Massapequa tours an open house at a Massapequa condominium with licensed associate broker Betty Davenport on Saturday, May 14, 2016. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Long Island home sales picked up in April, and local brokers credited an influx of buyers priced out of New York City.

The number of closed transactions grew by 9 percent, year over year, in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, with 1,775 sales Islandwide, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Monday.

The bustling market gave prices a modest boost in Nassau County, where the median price ticked up to $445,625, an annual gain of 3.3 percent. In Suffolk County the median price dipped, year over year, by 1.6 percent, to $310,000.

The Island’s real estate market has benefited from soaring real estate values in New York City, since many buyers can no longer afford homes they want in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, brokers said.

Buyers are especially keen for communities with easy access to Manhattan on the Long Island Rail Road. “Nassau is definitely stronger, across the board, in every price range,” said Gary Baumann, an associate broker with Douglas Elliman in Huntington and Port Washington. “The higher-paying jobs are typically in the city, and the commute to the city is just easier from a lot of towns in Nassau County.”

However, Nassau’s high property taxes prompt some buyers to look just over the border into Suffolk communities such as Melville and Dix Hills, where taxes and home prices are lower, Baumann said.

In both Nassau and Suffolk it was at least the 12th straight month that the number of closed sales has increased compared with the year-ago period, the listing service reported Monday.

Low interest rates are helping to spur home sales, said John Fitzgerald, an owner of Hauppauge-based Realty Connect USA. The average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.57 percent last week, down 0.28 percentage points from a year earlier, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported.

Well-maintained, conveniently located homes in Suffolk have grown in value, even as prices lag in communities with larger shares of homes in foreclosure, Fitzgerald said. Millennials — those as old as about age 35 — are particularly focused on finding homes that require little or no repair work. “They’re not looking to buy a house and make improvements,” Fitzgerald said. “The less work, the more interest from the buyer pool.”

In one indication that the market is likely to stay busy, the number of pending sales increased, year over year, by 34 percent in Suffolk and 17 percent in Nassau, the listing service reported.

At the current pace of closed sales, it would take 9.2 months to sell all listed homes in Suffolk and 7.7 months in Nassau, listing service figures show. A balanced real estate market has a six- to eight-month supply of homes, brokers say.

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