It’s that time again — time for the quarterly housing report for Virginia.

Let’s get the bad news over with first.

While there might be a light at the end of the economic tunnel, we’re still in the tunnel. So while the long-term prospects may be positive, we’re still feeling the effects of the economic nightmare that began in mid-2007.

Unemployment is a bit over 13% nationwide. Virginia’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average; we have the 11th lowest unemployment rate in the country at around 8%.(These figures are real unemployment numbers, by the way, taken from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.)

Statewide, housing sales were down 4.4% from the second quarter of 2008, and 21 of the state’s 26 metro areas showed a drop in sales over 2008. (They were up over May, of course.)

That’s the bad news. Here’s the good stuff:

  • Home prices, overall, are dropping. Almost 3/4 of Americans (72.5%) can afford a median-priced house — the highest percentage in 18 years.
  • Sales increased from May to June. This is expected, as sales usually increase monthly for the first half of the year. But the 1Q-2Q jump was bigger than expected. In the Lynchburg area, for example, sales jumped 59% from quarter to quarter, compared to 40% from quarter to quarter last year.
  • Fredericksburg saw sales increase more than 25% over the same quarter last year (and a 35% jump from June to June); Northern Virginia’s quarterly sales were up 8.6%.
  • Interest rates remained low, the Dow has climbed (1900 points since its low in early March), and so has consumer confidence. Housing starts were up in May and June, too.
  • Best of all, more people intend to purchase a home this year than last.

You can download a copy of the 16-page report here (200K PDF); more-visual folks can click here for a 6-pager of the important charts.

Prefer the audio? We’ve got you covered with an MP3 of the summary.

And looking to see how some local papers wrote up our news conference? Check out the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

“We [probably] passed the bottom of the bad times along about Christmastime,” said John McClain, a senior fellow at George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, during a media conference call about the report.

“Some of the leading economic indicators are up for a third consecutive month, indicating the beginning of a change,” McClain said.

the Lynchburg News & Advance:

Betty Kain, president of the Lynchburg Association of Realtors, said Thursday that consumer confidence has increased, and potential homebuyers are calling again and making reasonable offers for homes on the market. Other real estate agents across the state made similar observations.

WSET television

Lynchburg sales fell by 20 percent, and Roanoke fell more than eight percent. Realtors we spoke with say sales did start to turn around at the end of the quarter, with the onset of first time homebuyer incentives. But they say it might be some time before we see any significant change.

and the Fredricksburg Free Lance-Star:

Fredericksburg-area home sales had the best year-over-year growth rate in Virginia during the second quarter, according to the Virginia Association of Realtors.