Prices Up, Options Down

By Carrie Parker

 This Leland Street home in East Northport is currently listed for sale through Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty.

This Leland Street home in East Northport is currently listed for sale through Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty.

Shrinking inventory and creeping interest rates are driving up the prices of home in Suffolk higher, putting pressure on buyers and sellers alike to act quickly this spring.

While the median closing price in Suffolk rose 7.4 percent since last year, the number of homes on the Long Island market has decreased 19.6 percent, according to a report recently issued by Multiple Listing Services of Long Island.

“We’re seeing fewer homes for sale and more buyers in a lot of cases,” said Joe Descovich, associate real estate broker and regional manager of Huntington-based Signature Premier Properties.

Following the logic of supply and demand, Descovich predicts prices will continue to rise.

“If the demand is still there from the buyers and the inventory still isn’t, prices will go up,” he said.

Valerie Van Cleef, associate real estate broker with Prime Properties in Huntington, said she has been hearing anecdotally from agents and colleagues out in the field that they have buyers, but nothing to show.

And buyers are feeling pressure to act quickly, she added.

“Mortgage rates are still good so buyers are coming off the fence because they don’t want to see the rates rise,” Van Cleef said. She added that the strategy most agents tell their buyers is to come in at or over asking price in order to get the house. “Only one buyer wins.”

Inventory levels typically drop off in the winter months and pick up last week in February, according to Laurell Frein, associate real estate broker with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in Huntington. The buyer demand usually drops in that period as well. But that did not happen this year.

The result?

“Constant bidding wars,” Frein said, are happening across the Town of Huntington and houses are “going on the market multiple offers within days.

“It’s very competitive.”

Descovich spoke of deals in his office, specifically two within the last week, with seven or eight offers going over asking price.

Demand is there, Descovich said, so sellers are in “a really good position as the spring market approaches.”

Van Cleef said Suffolk continues to be attractive to people from the boroughs who are moving further east because “you tend to get a little more house and land.”

She added that “it is a pretty stable market in Huntington. It’s a popular place where a lot of people want to live.”

But if a house isn’t priced properly, the listing could be sitting pretty.

Van Cleef and Descovich both stressed the importance of listing properties priced accurately to the perception of value.

“Is the house worth the pricing?” Van Cleef asked. “It’s important for sellers to be realistic. They can’t just get what things were going for during the boom ten years ago.”

Descovich, meanwhile, gave advice on how to price a home on the market.

“If your house has been on the market for a while and you haven’t been getting much activity, most likely it’s outside of buyer perception of worth,” Descovich said. “You might want to reposition before the spring rush.”

 New houses traditionally come on the market in the spring when the weather is nice and houses look more attractive to buyers.

“As the spring market is almost upon us,” Descovich said, “buyers will be competing for the best properties, and if priced right, those houses will see a lot of competition.”