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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Fed's Beige Book: Economic activity increased at "moderate" pace, Residential real estate "activity improved"

by Calculated Risk on 6/06/2012 02:00:00 PM

Fed's Beige Book:

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest overall economic activity expanded at a moderate pace during the reporting period from early April to late May.
This is a slight upgrade from the previous beige book that reported "modest to moderate" growth.

And on real estate:
Activity in residential real estate markets improved in most Districts since the previous report. Several Districts noted consistent indications of recovery in the single-family housing market, although the recovery was characterized as fragile. The apartment market continued to improve, and multifamily construction increased in several Districts.

Home sales were above year-ago levels in most areas of the country and several Districts noted sales had improved since the previous report, although some noted that the pace was well below the historical average. In particular, the New York, Cleveland, and Richmond Districts noted a pickup in the pace of distressed sales. Residential brokers and some builders in the Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Dallas Districts said home sales were exceeding expectations. Contacts in the Richmond District said homes were being snapped up as investors become more confident in the housing recovery, and the Atlanta report noted stronger sales to cash buyers and investors in Florida. Chicago said more sales had multiple offers. Apartment rental markets improved in the New York, Atlanta, and Dallas Districts. One contact from the New York District noted rising apartment rents have made buying more attractive, contributing to a slight uptick in sales.

Most Districts reported that home inventories decreased. Overall, home prices remained unchanged in many Districts, although reports were mixed. There were a few reports that sellers were lowering asking prices, leading to downward pressure on housing prices.

New home construction increased in a number of Districts, including Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and San Francisco. Contacts in the Philadelphia District said demand for new home construction eased slightly. Builders in Kansas City noted housing starts were down, but they expected an increase in the next three months. The Boston, Atlanta, and Chicago Districts reported an increase in multifamily construction, and the Minneapolis District noted numerous multifamily projects were in the pipeline.

Commercial real estate conditions improved in most Districts, and there were some reports that commercial construction picked up.
Prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and based on information collected on or before May 25, 2012.

More sluggish growth - but not a slow down. And a few positive comments on residential real estate ...