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Long Island home prices break records, but buyers could get relief soon

Prospective buyers wait for a tour of a

Prospective buyers wait for a tour of a Glen Head house with agent Jean-Marie Stalzer on Saturday.  Credit: Corey Sipkin

Home prices defied the laws of gravity yet again last month, breaking records in Nassau and Suffolk counties, a new report shows.

In Nassau County, homes sold for a median price of $670,000 in July, up 22% from the same period a year earlier, OneKey MLS, the listing service that includes Long Island, reported Monday. Suffolk County home prices soared to a median $525,000, rising 19% annually, OneKey reported.

"It’s been the strongest market I’ve ever seen," said Jean-Marie Stalzer, a real estate agent with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in Sea Cliff, who has been in the industry for 18 years.

What to know

  • Home prices broke records last month, jumping to $670,000 in Nassau and $525,000 in Suffolk.
  • Demand remains strong, as buyers seek out suburban homes during the pandemic.
  • Low interest rates also are driving buyers into the market.
  • It's still a sellers' market, but the supply of homes is ticking up.

Many people with New York City-based jobs expect to continue to work from home at least a few days a week, and as a result they’re seeking out spacious homes in the suburbs with backyards and pools, located near downtowns, beaches and golf courses, she said.

"Most people are feeling like it's never going to go back to five days a week in the city," she said. With demand so strong on Long Island, she said, "if someone’s looking to sell their house, it’s still a great time to sell."

But while the market continues to favor sellers, frustrated buyers could get some relief soon.

The number of homes for sale ticked up by 0.3% in Nassau and 4.5% in Suffolk last month, compared with June, OneKey figures show. In addition, the median price of homes going into contract has been trending downward month-over-month from May through July, OneKey figures show.

And in another sign the real estate market is becoming a bit less frenetic, the number of homes going into contract last month dropped by 11% in Nassau and 6% in Suffolk, compared with June’s pending sales, OneKey reported.

The supply of homes remains tight, though. At July’s pace of pending sales, it would take 2.7 months in Nassau and 2.1 months in Suffolk to sell all the homes on the market, OneKey figures show. That’s compared with the five- to eight-month supply that brokers say makes for a balanced market.

"It is still a sellers’ market," said Jim Speer, CEO of OneKey. However, he said, "I am hearing from brokers throughout the Long Island market that there’s no longer long lines at open houses as there had been when the market was really, really hot. They’re still getting multiple offers, but it’s not to the extent that it had been."

Speer said it’s difficult to compare last month’s sales figures with the previous July, since the pandemic has caused such turmoil in the market. The three-month COVID-19 real estate shutdown ended in June 2020, leading to a huge jump in backlogged contract signings the next month.

"It’s so hard now to compare year-over-year now with what we went through, so we’re tending to look at month-to-month," Speer said.

Low mortgage rates are a big factor driving buyers into the market, Speer said. The average rate for a 30-year mortgage was 2.87% last week, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported.

"The interest rates are still fueling it, without a doubt," Speer said. With the cost of borrowing so low, he said, "you look at what you’re going to pay for the month and you do feel you need to get out there."

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