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Interesting Article (at least I thought so)
Where the deals are
By Bernadette Starzee
Friday, April 21, 2006
Patty Eidt grew up in Rockville Centre, a prestigious village in southern Nassau County. When she began looking for her own house about three years ago, she wanted to find something in the area, “but Rockville Centre was out of the question” because of its prices, she said.
She looked in several communities, including South Baldwin, Freeport and Oceanside, before finding a three-bedroom ranch in South Hempstead, which borders Rockville Centre to the north.
“It’s a nice, quiet area, it has a good school district and the houses are reasonably priced,” she said. “I’ve been very happy here.”
The appeal of South Hempstead is that much of it is in the Rockville Centre school district, said Kathleen Evangelista, who sells real estate in the Franklin Square office of Prudential Douglas Elliman.
“But you pay a lot less for a house here than you would in Rockville Centre,” she said.
Elizabeth Wallace, owner/broker of Century 21 Sherlock Homes in Rockville Centre, calls South Hempstead “one of the best-kept secrets in the whole world.”
It’s a small area nestled up against the Rockville Centre Golf Course and across the street from New Canterbury, a particularly pricey section of northern Rockville Centre.
“You can have an expanded ranch in New Canterbury for $800,000 and pay $500,000 for it in South Hempstead,” Wallace said. “South Hempstead is a great little town, with a lot of capes, a few high ranches and some colonials. It’s great for the first-time buyer, and you’re a stone’s throw from the village of Rockville Centre.”
And you can send your children to an award-winning school district.
Wallace said entry-level buyers can find a house in South Hempstead from the mid-$300,000s to the high-$400,000s.
“We have a three-bedroom colonial on the market on a large piece of property for $469,000,” Wallace said.
The problem is, because it’s a small area, there are never many homes on the market at a time.
To the north, Greenvale offers relative affordability in another top-notch school district: Roslyn.
“You get more house for your money than you would elsewhere in the Roslyn school district,” said Maria Babaev, manager of Century 21 Laffey Associates in Greenvale. Babaev estimates residents would probably pay $100,000 to $150,000 more for the same home in Roslyn.
“There are a lot of places on Long Island that offer wonderful value for all types of markets, from the first-time buyer to the luxury buyer,” said Lawrence Paul Finn III, director of corporate services for Coach Realtors in Northport. Potential purchasers just have to invest the time to seek out hidden treasures, he said, and consider places they may not have considered before.
Centerport, a wooded North Shore hamlet located in Suffolk’s Town of Huntington, is something of a hidden treasure, Finn said.
“It is a wonderful town, but it’s book-ended by two more popular areas: Huntington and Northport,” he said. “Everyone knows about Huntington and Northport, but they might not know about the little hamlet in between.”
Centerport has excellent schools, beaches, scenic beauty and easy access to the bustling village centers of its two better-known neighbors, but it’s generally less expensive than either of those places, he said.
“You might pay $700,000 for a home, but if you go east to Northport Village, you could pay $100,000 more for a comparable home,” he said. “If you drive over to Huntington Bay, the price might jump up by $200,000.”
Another find is Sayville, located on the south shore of Suffolk County, in the Town of Islip.
“People who live in that part of Long Island know Sayville is a wonderful place with a nice feel to it. It has a great downtown area, the water and other special features,” Finn said. “But it’s not a place that people living in mid-Nassau would think about moving to.” The average selling price of homes in Sayville was about $490,000 in 2005, said Finn, citing Multiple Listing Service statistics.
“Where in Nassau County could you get a four-bedroom house with all the family amenities that Sayville offers for that price?” he said.
From east to west
Naturally, the 80-minute commute to Penn Station is a tad inconvenient.
“But it’s not a bad commute to a lot of places on the Island,” he said. For instance, the corporate corridors of Melville and Hauppauge are within striking distance.
Years ago, you could watch the prices fall with every exit you passed in the east-bound lane of the Long Island Expressway. You still can, but to a lesser degree.
“There has been an equalizing of the market, as prices across the Island have risen so fast,” Finn said. “A house in Manhasset is going to be more than a house in Stony Brook, yes. But the disparity has lessened.”
But it still helps a little to go east and, often, south. Years ago, East Norwich, a tiny hamlet in northwestern Nassau County, was something of a bargain among its ritzier neighbors. But prices have come up so much, that it’s no longer the case.
“If you want more for your money, now you have to go over the border into Western Suffolk, or perhaps to the South Shore towns of Merrick, North Merrick, Bellmore or North Bellmore,” said Carol Gannon, a licensed sales associate in Prudential Douglas Elliman’s East Norwich office.
Across the border in Suffolk, “Huntington is a large area with quite a bit of inventory available,” she said. “It has commercial businesses, which soak up some of the taxes, and you get a little more property for your dollar.”
Gannon estimates that a buyer could save about $50,000 by crossing the border. She noted that by going to the Western Suffolk areas of Smithtown, Hauppauge or Commack, potential homebuyers could trade a shorter commute for more property.
“In the township of Smithtown, you will find good value in San Remo, which is in the Kings Park School District,” said Adelle Longo, G.R.I., a licensed real estate agent in the Smithtown office of Prudential Douglas Elliman.
“Years ago, San Remo was kind of run-down and people snubbed their noses at it,” said Longo, speaking of the beach community that was once a haven for summer bungalows. “But not anymore. It now has renovated and brand-new houses.”
Prices have come up, but not too high, said Longo, because the properties are small (less than a quarter-acre). There are cottages, ranches, colonials and Victorians, and prices start in about the $380,000s, she said.
The wooded Pines section of Smithtown, which is in the Hauppauge School District, offers value because its tax base is subsidized by the Hauppauge business corridor. “You might pay $6,000 in taxes on a house with a half-acre property there,” Longo said. “Where in much of Smithtown, you would pay $7,000 to $9,000 in taxes for a quarter-acre property.”
Buyers priced out of Smithtown often ask to look in Lake Grove or Nesconsett.
“You get more bang for your buck there than you would in Smithtown, and they’re beautiful places,” Longo said. Homes in both start in about the high $300,000s, she said.
Farther east still, in the Town of Brookhaven, two North Shore areas with good schools and affordable homes are magnets for first-time buyers, said Edward Stein, manager of the Miller Place office of Century 21 Rustic Realty. Rocky Point and Sound Beach are near the water and have starter homes in the mid-$200,000s.
“We’re not talking the Taj Mahal at those prices,” Stein said. “The homes are small and often need work. But some buyers are willing to settle for less house to be in a very good school district.”
Rocky Point is located in the Rocky Point School District, while Sound Beach children attend either Rocky Point or Miller Place schools. Nearby homes, by comparison, start at about $400,000.
On Brookhaven’s south shore, first-time buyers who are priced out of other areas can often find a home in Shirley, Mastic or Mastic Beach. How about a three-bedroom, 1.5-bath ranch on a shy-half-acre with a two-car detached garage in Mastic Beach for $269,000? Or a nice two-bedroom in move-in condition in Shirley for $255,000?
Then there’s the waterfront. Pisciotto said a waterfront ranch with 75 feet of bulkhead space for a boat just sold for $460,000 in Mastic Beach. Shirley has waterfront properties, too.
“A similar house in Shirley would have gone for about $625,000,” Pisciotto said.
Stein’s colleague, Paul Pisciotto, who manages Century 21 Rustic Realty’s Mastic-Shirley office, said the area also is popular among move-up buyers, who can get more for their money there.
“This is especially true for new constructions,” he said. “Where else in Long Island can you get a brand-spanking-new house for less than $400,000?”