By Jennifer Corr and Joshua Blake
Realtors in Suffolk County are preparing for an unusual home buying season as prices have skyrocketed, and inventory has plunged.
Suffolk County home prices have risen 8.2 percent over the past year and are projected to rise another 2.5 percent through January 2019, according to Zillow, an online real estate company.
“Because it is getting warmer a little bit sooner, we are starting to get a lot more homeowners calling and putting their homes on the market,” Idalina Lopes, a Farmingville based associate broker from Douglas Elliman, said. “The inventory will start to open up a little bit, but it is still tight.”
The amount of listings on the market have gone down 14 percent, leaving 5,693 homes available as of January 2018, according to Multiple Listing Services of Long Island.
The high prices and lack of choices do not make it easier for customers like Jonathan Caban, a potential home buyer, who attended an open house in Ronkonkoma. He noticed just how fast these houses are selling.
“Out of four houses we’ve seen, two of them already had offers on them,” Caban said.
The median listing price of a household is $459,000 in Suffolk County as of January 2018, the Multiple Listing Services of Long Island reported. Suffolk and Nassau County are the second most expensive place to raise a family in the United States.
Despite the high prices, millenials and renters are better off purchasing a home and paying off a mortgage than paying rent, Katharine Roeser, an associate broker on Lopes’s team at Douglas Elliman, said.
“Rentals in New York are extremely expensive,” Roeser said. “People can pay less for a mortgage than they are right now in a rental.”
The median monthly rent of a one-bedroom apartment in Suffolk County is $1,830 as of January 2018, according to Zillow.
High taxes and interest rates are another factor of buying a home in Suffolk County, Lopes said. The median property taxes paid on a home is $7,010. The 30-year fixed interest rate for a mortgage to buy a home in Suffolk County is 4.26 percent, according to Zillow.
“Most of the taxes are really for schools,” Lopes said. “A lot of people do come to this area because they can hop onto the train and be in the city.”
Coming from Delaware, Rosemary Horner did not expect the Long Island housing market to be so expensive.
“The cost of living in general is higher, so you can get a lot more house for your money in Delaware,” Horner said. “Just having to adjust your thinking, really, to what you’re going to find in the market was probably the biggest transition.”
February and March are the best time to buy, Lopes said, because as people begin to list their homes, the inventory of homes for sale is higher than it will be in the summertime.
Among those who attended the open house in Rononkoma was Mark Hengeveld, who was there to help his friend. Hengeveld noted that for smaller houses, like the one in Ronkonkoma, there are some more options.
“In the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen at least 20,” he said.
“There are a fair amount of foreclosures around,” Hengeveld added. “They’re obviously less appealing because they need a lot work. There is a few places like this too that have nice curve appeal and, you know, they’re cute.”