The most common measure of real estate prices is a quarterly survey published by the National Association of Realtors. But that report only breaks sales data down to the regional level -- which isn't helpful if you want to see what's happening in your own town.

Every year, The Star-Ledger analyzes home sales data from another source, the Division of Taxation inside the state's Department of Treasury. As part of its regulatory mission, this agency collects information on every real estate transaction in the state, and its annual "Useable Sales" database is available to the public through the State's Open Records Act.

Because the state uses the data to determine the market value of real estate in each New Jersey town, all home sales are classified to show whether the transaction took place under fair market conditions, or whether there was another circumstance that impacted the price -- such as a transaction among family members.

The town by town data in this report is based on these transactions -- sales of residential property that are denoted as fair-market.  Other sales listed in our neighborhood search tool are tagged with a "*". For more information on this topic, see page 7 of this Treasury Dept. document.

Because of the vast quantity of raw sales data that flows through this system, there are occasionally errors -- sales of vacant land, for example, are sometimes denoted as residential sales. Since these errors are few and far between, and since there is no way of finding every error without researching each transaction individually, the Star-Ledger analysis is based on the information contained in the database -- no records have been altered.

Also, in towns that are about to undergo a tax roll revaluation, all sales that take place in the final six months of the year are marked as "unusable", even if they were conducted under fair market conditions. For this reason, the annual sales averages for every town are based on the first six months of the year only -- this method provides a better apples-to-apples comparison of the market.

However, on parts of this site that list individual transactions, all sales are included.

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