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'Reasonable' Long Island sellers get their price, inventory falls to record low

This four-bedroom house at 1 Wood Lot Lane in East Hampton is on the market for the first time and asking $995,000.

Douglas Elliman

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2020
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Hunting for a house on Long Island? You’re probably not having a lot of luck finding a wide variety of listings that fit your wish list. That’s because the number of houses on the market in these two suburbs of New York City fell to a record low last quarter. There was some good news for sellers: The number of sales and prices were up—continuing a trend seen in past quarters.

According to Douglas Elliman’s fourth-quarter 2019 sales market report for Long Island, the Hamptons, and the North Fork—the news on the East End (which the report breaks out from Suffolk County) is more mixed: Sales were up, but prices slid in the Hamptons, and the number of fourth-quarter sales on the North Fork was the second-lowest in seven years.

“Overall, we are seeing positive growth across the Long Island, Hamptons, and North Fork markets,” says Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel and author of the report. “The elevated levels in both sales and pricing can be attributed to the drop in mortgage rates that helped push the market forward.”

According to the report, the number of houses on the market in Nassau and Suffolk counties fell after rising annually for three straight quarters.

The median sales price rose 5.6 percent to $455,000—the median sales price has not seen a year-over-year decline in 27 quarters, the report says. And the numbers of sales were up year over year for the fourth time in five quarters, rising 2.1 percent. 

“Sellers, when reasonable, are getting their price. Prices are holding firm but rising slowly, which is healthy in any market, so buyers are confident and are taking advantage of the low interest rates,” says Ann Conroy, chief executive officer of Douglas Elliman’s Long Island Division. "But in a political season, there always is a certain amount of uncertainty, which can slow things down a bit. In our current political climate, both nationally and internationally, caution is expected.”

In the Hamptons, the report showed that prices are still sliding, though sales rose annually for the first time in eight quarters. It was, however, the second-lowest number of fourth-quarter sales in 11 years.

The median sales price of $906,250 representing an 8.9 percent drop, the third year-over-year drop in four quarters. Sales were up 11.1 percent. The number of houses on the market dropped for the first time in five quarters—however, luxury inventory rose to the highest fourth quarter in eight years.

Luxury sales over $2 million saw a bump from the year-ago quarter, and luxury inventory fell to its lowest level in three years.

“After four straight quarters of surging inventory in the Hamptons, the gains slowed this past quarter,” says Todd Bourgard, Douglas Elliman’s senior executive regional manager of sales for the Hamptons. “This suggests that more sellers are acclimating to the slower market with their pricing, resulting in an uptick in annual sales.”

On the North Fork, the number of houses on the market remained the same after four straight quarters of increases. Despite a 48.5 percent surge in sales year over year, fourth-quarter transactions were the second lowest in seven years. The median sales price rose 4.2 percent to $650,000.