Long Island's housing market struggled to break out of its slump last month.

Home prices edged up in Nassau County but fell slightly in Suffolk, the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island reported Monday.

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The median home in Nassau sold for $417,000, an increase of 1.5 percent from last September, the service reported. The median home price in Suffolk County fell to $310,000, a year-over-year drop of 1.4 percent.

Sales activity fell in both counties. There were 831 closings in each county, a year-over-year drop of 4.8 percent in Nassau and 1.2 percent in Suffolk.

In both counties, however, the number and median price of homes going into contract rose.

The number of homes going into contract in Nassau County jumped by 15.2 percent, to 766, from a year earlier. The median price of a pending home sale in the county was $399,000, an increase of 6.4 percent.

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With mortgage interest rates near all-time lows, prospective home buyers fear that rates could rise after the presidential election, said Edward Freeberg, a sales agent with Century 21 Kin Realty in West Hempstead.

In Suffolk County, 842 contracts were signed, 7.5 percent more than in September 2011, and the median contract price was $307,200, an increase of 2.4 percent.

Sellers have reluctantly agreed to drop their asking prices, while buyers feel prices might not drop much further, brokers said.

The high end of the housing market in Suffolk has picked up, said Jim Netter, broker/owner of Netter Real Estate in West Islip, with one home that listed for nearly $1.9 million recently going into contract for an undisclosed price.

Pending sales are not always a reliable indicator of future home prices. Typically, some sales that go into contract fall apart before the closing, in some cases because the mortgage lender's appraisal comes in below the agreed-upon sales price. In such cases, the deal must be renegotiated or scuttled.

The number of homes for sale fell in both counties.

There were 11,300 homes for sale in Suffolk, 13.3 percent fewer than the previous September.

In Nassau County, 8,275 homes were on the market, a drop of nearly 16 percent.