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Housing prices flat

Home prices remained flat on most of Long Island this summer as the housing market continued its slow and jagged recovery, according to two reports being released Today.

The median sale price of homes in Nassau County and western Suffolk County was $365,000 during July, August and September — unchanged from last summer, according to a regional report by appraisal firm Miller Samuel and the brokerage Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

While the number of sales jumped 9.7 percent, the backlog of unsold homes lingering from the recession has kept prices from rising, brokers and appraisers said.

“Things are getting better, but we still have several years of unwinding,” Miller Samuel president Jonathan Miller said.

On the East End, the median sale price dropped 9.3 percent, to $635,000. Prices of the most expensive homes in the Hamptons and on the North Fork dipped 7 percent, to $2.7 million. Brokers and appraisers, however, said the median price declines stemmed from rising sales of smaller homes – not falling prices.

For the first time in two years, nearly 70 percent of homes sold in the Hamptons and on the North Fork this summer went for under $1 million in the largely tony markets, Miller said. They were scooped up by a flurry of buyers taking advantage of low interest rates, driving up sales of more modest homes and, consequently, lowering the region’s median price.

“There has been more activity at the lower end of the market than ever before,” said Ernie Cervi, an executive managing director for The Corcoran Group in Bridgehampton.

One bright spot in today’s reports: The inventory of unsold homes fell 15.7 percent in Nassau County and western Suffolk County. The East End’s inventory dropped 14 percent.

That decline is not just because more homes are selling. Fewer homes are coming on the market because owners don’t have enough equity to buy something new or can’t qualify for a mortgage under today’s tighter credit standards, brokers said.

Falling inventory will eventually lead to higher prices, brokers said, but it will take time.

“You will see a slight rise in prices in certain areas in the next year,” Prudential Douglas Elliman president Dottie Herman said.

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