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Housing in high demand in Bellmore, Merrick

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Finding Bigfoot might be easier than finding a house to purchase on Long Island this summer.

While many businesses fight to return to pre-pandemic shape, the real estate industry is booming in Nassau and Suffolk counties as attractive mortgage rates coupled with city residents seeking life in the suburbs creates the perfect storm.

“It’s been a true sellers market going back to January, and what’s going on now is unprecedented,” said Seth Pitlake of Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Merrick. “Inventory is low and the number of buyers is extremely high. Any house properly priced and in move-in condition is gone within a week, and some are gone in a day.”

Pitlake has worked alongside his mother, Louise — one of Long Island’s top agents — for the past 28 years. He said this past July marked their office’s all-time high for transactions in a single month, with more than 100 properties bought, sold and/or rented. And that record could be threatened if the opening week of August is any indication.

“We did the best we could when we had to turn on a dime and take our business virtual during the pandemic, but people still want to touch and feel the product they’re buying,” Pitlake said.

Housing market activity this June jumped 20.7 percent from May 2020, according to the National Association of Realtors. The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to a record low of 2.87 percent in July, according to Mortgage News Daily.

The tempting loan rate has driven up interest in higher-end homes throughout Bellmore-Merrick, as well as countywide, Pitlick said. “We’ve seen a tremendous increase in the market for houses $800,000 and up,” he explained. “Merrick and Bellmore are great towns with great schools, parks and recreation and pretty close to the beach.”

Lynn Karp, an associate broker at Signature Premier Properties in Merrick, said prospective buyers are upping their bids and getting into bidding wars because of a combination of demand and interest rates.

“Supply and demand has created a frenzy — we’re getting multiple offers on every house,” she said. “There’s only one winning bid, so at the end you’ve still got a bunch of buyers looking for the next house. There’s a mad rush as soon as a listing pops up.”

Karp, who has worked in the industry for 34 years, said Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens-based residents who have transitioned to working remotely are looking to move to Long Island to take advantage of additional space. “If I’m showing a three-bedroom house, the buyer usually has an eye on turning one bedroom into a home office,” she said.

Jonathan Brand, an agent at Coldwell Banker Realty in Bellmore, said he’s also seeing houses disappear from the market in a day or two. “Supply is having a hard time keeping up with demand,” Brand said. “A lot of people are finding out they can work remotely, and their buying power goes a lot further on Long Island than it does Manhattan.”