Raw data is…well…raw data and that means if you misread the numbers, read them with bias, or even read them in a vacuum, it’s easy to misconstrue any sort of research. Home sales stats are no different and this realization is one of the driving factors in the renovation of Virginia’s home sales report.

VAR has now formed a strategic partnership with GMU’s Office of Housing Policy Research that adds additional value and context to its home sales reports. The main aim of the partnership is to produce more in depth quarterly accounts of Virginia home sales that view the state’s housing situation from a chronologically broader and more analytical viewpoint, improving on the snapshot analysis that was the former focus of monthly reports. The new report format now includes not only raw data from local associations, but also

• A look at both national and state markets
• Statistics on job growth and other important economic indicators
• Housing affordability analysis and
• Honest interpretation of the facts

In addition to reinventing the report format, VAR and GMU have also renovated its distribution. Members and the general public can still download reports online, however now media have the opportunity to call in and get an in-person perspective from Virginia’s REALTOR(r) leaders and expert researchers.

The Virginia 2008 first quarter home sales report is now available online and its most important messages are implicit: Perspective is critically important and considering context is crucial.

A Few Highlights…

If you’re looking at national stats, recession is likely. If you zoom into Virginia, our economy has continually outperformed the nation, is still experiencing job growth, and these factors and the diversity of industry across the state contribute to a healthy economic outlook.

Nationally households with an average income can afford 47 percent of homes on the market. When you zoom into Virginia you see households with an average income can afford 50-60 percent of homes on the market.

Nationally and in Virginia prices are dropping and in most areas stabilizing. In both cases, this is contributing to an overall housing affordability increase and created market entry opportunities for a new sect of savvy buyers.

It’s no secret that home prices in Northern Virginia are expected to continue to decrease; however, that’s only half the story. In Prince William, one of the hardest hit areas; pending sales have increased from 1,645 in the first quarter of 2007 to 2,341 in the first quarter of 2008. This isn’t surprising with interest rate decreasing and price stabilization, it seems like prospective homeowners are starting to get the message. Now IS a great time to buy.

No one knows exactly what the next stage will be in the life of the imaginary “national” housing market and its also true that unlike 2004-06 not just anyone can be successful in real estate. But for the smart buyers, sellers, and REALTORS(r), there’s a lot of opportunity for wealth building and Virginia is still one of the best places to be in real estate in the nation.

Don’t take my word for it; check out the good, the bad, and the real Virginia perspective on the housing market at www.VARealtor.com/HomeSalesReport today.