Long lines at house showings, multiple offers and the highest sale prices in two years.
Those are indicators that Valley Streamer and licensed real estate saleswoman Maria Ottomanelli said signal a strong housing market after a spring in which the coronavirus pandemic brought nearly all aspects of life to a halt.
House showings have resumed, and the local real estate industry is rebounding after a disastrous April and May, Ottomanelli said. The median sale price for a home in Valley Stream, including North Valley Stream, was nearly $553,000 in July — a 10.5 percent increase from the same period last year, and the highest it’s been since 2018, according to One-Key, a real estate listing service.
“Growth is basically at pre-Covid levels in January,” Ottomanelli said, “which was a good month for a January.”
She attributed the phenomenon to a number of factors, chiefly low interest rates on mortgages, supply and demand, and families leaving New York City for the suburbs in higher numbers.
“The people I’ve talked to, their thing is they need more space,” Ottomanelli said of city families. In addition to Valley Stream, she deals with buyers and sellers in Brooklyn, Queens and Suffolk counties. “They’re feeling the city’s not cutting it,” she said, “especially if they have kids.”
Valley Stream isn’t the only community seeing increased demand. In neighboring Lynbrook, the median sale price for a home in July was $553,000, a 15 percent increase over the previous year, according to Redfin, another real estate listing service.
Ottomanelli described long lines at open houses. If the house is priced reasonably, it will sell fairly quickly, with multiple offers. A fixer-upper in Valley Stream might catch a price in the high $400,000 range, she said, or a ready-to-move-in home might sell for somewhere in the low $600,000s.
Supply is also relatively low. According to Redfin, in July there were 246 homes for sale in Valley Stream, compared with 266 in July 2019, a roughly 7.5 percent decrease in inventory. As to why there are fewer sellers at the moment, Ottomanelli said, it could be related to a number of factors.
“Everyone moves for different reasons,” she said, but with the economic fallout from the pandemic expected to last for months, if not years, she added, “I definitely think it’s related.”
“There’s a lot of uncertainty,” she continued. With the threat of layoffs and financial hardship, people may not be able to afford to move. But come the fall and winter, when coronavirus forbearance extensions and foreclosure moratoriums are set to expire, she said, there could be a wave of evictions and short sales in which homes are sold below market price. Meantime, however, “the demand is there,” she said. “You have the buyers.”
As to whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market, she said, “I’m leaning toward a sellers market.”
While high property taxes and prices in Valley Stream might price out a number of first-time buyers and preclude the bidding wars that characterize a true seller’s market, Ottomanelli said the perks that come with living there, including proximity to New York City and major transit hubs, as well as its tight-knit community feel, have long made it a desirable place to live.
Plus, as a longtime resident herself, she said, “It’s a great place to live.”