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Real Estate Market Update 
Monday, July 22 2013

Long Island Business News (July 19-25, 2013/ Vol. 60/ No. 31)

Boosted by increased buyer activity and lower inventory, the Long Island housing market posted six consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth in the first half of the year, accompanied by modestly higher prices.

There were 12,656 Long Island homes contracted for sale from January through June, 15 percent more than the 10,981 pending sales recorded for the first half of 2012, according to the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island.

“The first half was very impressive,” said Anthony Atkinson, owner of Weichert Realtors Quality Homes in Baldwin. “The level of activity has increased and more buyers have been stepping into the market.”

The Weichert office on Grand Avenue saw 22 percent more buyer inquiries from the company’s website than during last year’s first half, Atkinson added.

A shortage of homes in select areas and price ranges has helped create a bit of buyer frenzy. A Baldwin ranch listed at $309,000 attracted four offers shortly after its open house two weeks ago, Atkinson said. It ended up selling for $5,000 over the asking price.

“If it’s priced right, it’s selling quickly,” he said.

While the industry isn’t quite reliving the heady days of 2005, the mood of brokers is much more upbeat. MLSLI reports that 13,092 homes were sold from January through June, for a gross closing volume of more than $5.62 billion.

That’s a 12.3 percent jump in the number of closings that added up to about $770 million more in closings – a 16 percent gain – from the first half of 2012. By comparison, business this year is still off by nearly 2,000 transactions and about $1.5 billion less than the first half of 2005, the Island market’s apex.

Brokers have been encouraged by more buyers and sellers coming off the sidelines.

“This is the first spring in a long time that we’ve seen real movement,” said Barbara Wanamaker, a broker with Douglas Elliman in Huntington. “Buyers are more ready to commit.”

The recent spike in interest rates – to the highest levels in two years – is also helping the market, brokers said. Wanamaker said July has so far been busier than normal, which she attributes to the fear that rising rates would eventually scare away buyers.

Laura Rittenberg, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage for Long Island and Queens, said there is no indication rates will go back down, which makes pricing a house to sell that much more important.

“A 1-percentage-point change in the rate translates to a $30,000 price difference,” Rittenberg said. “For a $300,000 house, that’s huge, so sellers have to be realistic with their prices.”

Home prices continue to rebound, although slowly, and are still well off their highs. The median price of homes in contract in Nassau last month was $430,000, or about 2.4 percent more than the $420,000 median price a year ago, according to the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island. In Suffolk, the median price for pending home sales in June was $320,000, just 1.6 percent above the $315,000 median price in June 2012.

The median prices for pending sales near the height of the market in June 2005 were $470,000 in Nassau and $385,000 in Suffolk.

Barring any unforeseen crises, many brokers believe the real estate business will continue to improve.

“I don’t see it slowing down,” Atkinson said. “We’re looking for a strong finish for the rest of the year.”


Long Island Business News (July 19-25, 2013/ Vol. 60/ No. 31)

Posted by: David Winzelberg AT 12:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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