It seems that the Hampton Roads area of Virginia is one of the strongest metropolitan areas in the US according to a Brookings Institute report. I found out about this positive bit of news while reading an article at DailyPress.com entitled, “Hampton Roads showing signs of economic recovery”. This Brookings Institute ranking considered several factors including gross metropolitan product, unemployment, housing values and average salaries. According to this ranking, Hampton Roads has ranked 16th out of the top 100 metro areas in the US.
Hampton Roads’ gross metropolitan product has dropped 0.05% from its peak and was up 0.03% in the first quarter of 2009, while the national average is down 3.3% from peak and down 1.6% in the first quarter of 2009.
In terms of employment, the US is down 2.9% from peak and 1.5 % down in the first quarter of 2009. Hampton Roads is only down 0.05% from peak and as of the first quarter of 2009, is down only 0.1% in the first quarter of 2009.
Housing prices across the nation are down 6.3%, in Hampton Roads, they are only down 3.2%.
Average salaries in the US are up by 1% in the first quarter, whereas average salaries in the Hampton Roads area are up by 0.8%
Overall, Hampton Roads ranked 16th out of the top 100 metropolitan areas, though some economists say it is too soon to celebrate, including Vinod Agarwal, an economics professor at Old Dominion University. According to professor Agarwal, we are doing better than other areas of the US, but he questions whether he Hampton Roads area will be able to continue doing so over the coming months. Because this is the Brookings Institute’s first metropolitan-area report and because it is only paints only several parts of a bigger picture, professor Agarwal says it’s too early to tell at this point.
While nationwide, home values have fallen by an average of 6.3%, Hampton Roads home values have only declined by 3.2%, which means that homebuyers still have the upper hand when it comes time to negotiate a final selling price for homes. However, interest rates are relatively low, the IRS is extending a tax break for qualified first-time homebuyers of $8,000 or 10% of the home’s value and home values have dropped by an average of 3.2%, so these factors should motivate buyers who have been sitting on the fence. Lower home values, lower interest rates and this tax credit for first-time buyers should help to stimulate our market and bring us back to historic levels.