Real Estate: Volume up, prices down last quarter

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A house under contract on Ostrander Avenue in Riverhead. Home sales were up in the third quarter this year, but the median sale price dropped.

Single-family home sales for the third quarter of 2013 were back to their pre-recession levels in Southold, numbers show, though the median price was down more than 10 percent compared to the same period last year.

According to data provided by Suffolk Research Services, 127 single-family homes were sold in Southold from July through September compared to 104 last year. That was the most since 2005, when 146 homes were sold in the area over the same months. However, the quarter’s median home sales price dropped from $480,000 in 2012 to $429,000 this year. Numbers show this trend is similar across the East End, reflecting an active market in which many people who have been waiting to buy or sell are finally making the move.

“It means there’s good value out there,” said Valerie Goode, owner of Colony Realty in Jamesport. “People who were waiting for their homes to sell two years ago are now ready-to-go consumers.”

Across the five East End towns, the volume of single-family home sales jumped 35 percent in the third quarter, from 635 a year ago to 860 this year. Median prices, meanwhile, dropped 3.9 percent from 2012 to $639,000 — far below the recent high of $717,000 set in 2007.

Shelter Island was the only town to see a gain in median sales price, up 21 percent to $760,000 over 22 sales. Southampton took the quarter’s biggest hit, with the median price dropping 13 percent from $900,000 to $780,000 over 371 transactions.

In Riverhead, the third-quarter median sales price dipped slightly, from $355,000 in 2012 to $350,000 this year, a 1.4 percent decrease. As in Southold, the number of sales was up, from 88 transactions to 122.

Carol Tintle, regional manager with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s, said she’s seen home sale prices increase recently, especially at the upper and lower ends of the market.

“The higher and lower ends are definitely selling,” she said. “The problems are the middle of the road, unless it’s very special. Until some homes get reduced to the price they should be, there is so much on the market, they may not sell.”

A quarterly report released by real estate firm Prudential Douglas Elliman noted that median prices on the high end were, on the whole, down on the North Fork. The median home price in the fifth and highest quintile, the report states, was $870,000, down 20 percent compared to last year. However the lowest quintile reported a 9.1 percent gain, to $257,500.

Julia Robins, an associate with Century 21 Albert-son Realty in Greenport, suspected that an overall median price dip would be more reflective of the higher end, as she’s seen more sales volume on the whole.

“Sales activity is fabulous,” Ms. Robins said. “And it’s sustained into the fall. If there is any red in the median sales price, it’s probably the upper end.”

No agents reported concern about an increase in interest rates over the past six months, as a first quarter average of about 3.4 percent on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is expected to give way to about a 4.3 percent rate in the coming quarter, according to Freddie Mac economist Frank Nothaft.

Southold Town’s third-quarter median home sale price, at $429,000, is the its lowest since at least 2004, Suffolk Research Services reports. In total, over $72 million in single-family home sales were reported — still $7 million more than in last year’s third quarter.

[email protected]