Saturday, January 10, 2009

Home Closings Drop On Long Island New York

The number of home closings fell 16.8 percent and sales volume dropped 22 percent last year, according to the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island.There were about $11.4 billion in home sales and about 23,618 closings in 2008, compared with $14.6 billion in almost 28,389 closings in 2007, data show.In December, the overall median closing price for Long Island and Queens went down by more than 10 percent from the same time a year earlier, dropping from $425,000 to $381,800, said MLS, which also covers Queens.Holbrook-based real estate consultant Steve Harvey said he wasn't surprised at the figures but predicted that the Long Island market will heat up this quarter.
The pent-up pool of buyers will be emboldened by low interest rates and double-digit drops in prices the past year, he said. First-time buyers and sellers who have found buyers because their homes were priced right will take the plunge or trade up, creating a domino effect of more home sales, he said.Trends for 2009He said 2009 should see two trends: prices falling by at least another 10 percent due to discounted sales, such as foreclosures, and more closings: "It's going to be another bad year as far as pricing is concerned. ... The number of sales is going to dramatically increase."Joseph Mottola, chief executive of the Long Island Board of Realtors and the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island, said December inventory numbers indicate the market might be stabilizing. There were 30,552 residential listings last month, virtually unchanged from the 30,854 a year ago."A combination of stable inventory, a more realistic approach to asking prices and readily available financing at very favorable rates, bode well for Long Island to return to normal market conditions," he said.But often in December, listings expire and sellers take homes off the market for the holidays, Harney said. For example, November's inventory for the three counties was 34,605. Also, some agents have suggested that homeowners who don't have to move to keep homes off the market until the economy improves so they can sell at higher prices.Suffolk values up?
One figure that caught the eye of the Board of Realtors' executive committee was the median closing price for Suffolk, which went against the downward trend. It was $385,000 in December, up from $335,000 in November, said Mary Alice Ruppert, vice president of the Long Island Board of Realtors' Suffolk division."It's probably more of an anomaly than anything else," said Ruppert, a broker associate at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Huntington.More homes in higher-priced communities might have closed in December than in lower-priced neighborhoods, she said. Also, there could have been more "regular sales" wrapped up, homes that are not embroiled in financial turmoil and require lender approval, such as short sales.Ruppert, who's also on the Long Island housing crisis task force of nonprofits and government officials, suspects some lenders, hoping that the federal bailout might make them whole, held off on closing sales where unpaid mortgages exceeded home values
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