The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) announced on Monday that it is launching a new campaign, reaching out to consumers "with the facts about homeownership and the value of real estate as a long-term investment."

NAR's Public Awareness Campaign is centered around a new website, which provides information on homeownership as an investment, including a calculator that purports to show have a down payment will grow over the years, and links to portions of the official site that will guide viewers in accessing housing and community research or to identify an appropriate real estate agent.

The campaign will also use broadcast and print media to make its point to consumers. Local associations can receive posters, newspaper/magazine ads, and billboards following the campaign's two basic themes: "Building Wealth," and "Home Values." Between now and November the Association will broadcast ads on these same themes more than 10,000 time on national TV and radio. Local associations can coordinate the national media buys with their own local advertising.

The media plan for the PR campaign indicates that network television ads will be sparse - a total of 265 in the 11 months of the effort - but cable television on channels such as the Food Network, HGTV, the History Channel, DIY, and TBS will broadcast 2,340 ads and Hispanic outlets will get 558.

It is interesting to note that only Fox, CBS, and ABC are designated networks. One has to wonder if the NAR has yet to forgive NBC for the priceless moment on The Today Show three or four years ago when a horrified Al Roker gave consumer reporter Janet Lieberman about four chances to recant her breezy assertion that a real estate agent and a Realtor were synonymous. I believe she said something to the effect that "you say tomato." Come on guys, NBC did apologize....and apologize...and...

According to NAR's press release about the new campaign, the median price of existing homes has increased an average of more than 6 percent every year for the last 30 years and home values have historically close to doubled every ten years. NAR quotes a Federal Reserve study that shows that the average homeowner's net worth is 46 times that of the average renter (although there may be a certain cause and effect flaw in that argument.) NAR expresses concern that the frenzy of media reports about the state of the housing market may be keeping some potential home buyers on the sidelines out of fear and it hopes its ads will counteract that phenomenon.

NAR President Dick Gaylord said "Nobody buys a home in the national real estate market. All real estate markets are local, and buyers and sellers who are thinking about making a move should consult with a Realtor® in their local market to learn about conditions specific to the area. It's also advisable to look beyond the immediate horizon - real estate has proven itself to be a good long-term investment and a safe, secure way to build long-term wealth."

According to NAR's most recent forecast, existing-home sales might total 5.66 million in 2007, the fifth highest on record, rising to 5.70 million in 2008 and 5.91 million in 2009. Existing-home prices will probably o be down 1.9 percent to a median of $217,600 for all of 2007 which is good news for buyers; hold steady in 2008, and then rise 3.1 percent in 2009 to $224,400.