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Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Fed's Beige Book: "Strong demand for residential real estate but limited supply"

by Calculated Risk on 4/20/2022 02:13:00 PM

Fed's Beige Book "This report was prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis based on information collected on or before April 11, 2022. "

Economic activity expanded at a moderate pace since mid-February. Several Districts reported moderate employment gains despite hiring and retention challenges in the labor market. Consumer spending accelerated among retail and non-financial service firms, as COVID-19 cases tapered across the country. Manufacturing activity was solid overall across most Districts, but supply chain backlogs, labor market tightness, and elevated input costs continued to pose challenges on firms' abilities to meet demand. Vehicle sales remained largely constrained by low inventories. Commercial real estate activity accelerated modestly as office occupancy and retail activity increased. Districts' contacts reported continued strong demand for residential real estate but limited supply. Agricultural conditions were mixed across regions. Farmers were supported by surging crop prices, but drought conditions were a challenge in some Districts and increasing input costs were squeezing producer margins across the nation. Outlooks for future growth were clouded by the uncertainty created by recent geopolitical developments and rising prices.
Employment increased at a moderate pace. Demand for workers continued to be strong across most Districts and industry sectors. But hiring was held back by the overall lack of available workers, though several Districts reported signs of modest improvement in worker availability. Many firms reported significant turnover as workers left for higher wages and more flexible job schedules. Persistent labor demand continued to fuel strong wage growth, particularly for footloose workers willing to change jobs. Firms reported that inflationary pressures were also contributing to higher wages, and that higher wages were doing little to alleviate widespread job vacancies. But some contacts reported early signs that the strong pace of wage growth had begun to slow.
emphasis added
On Residential Real Estate:

• Boston: "Residential real estate sales slowed moderately in February, as the market was dogged by historically low inventories."

• Chicago: "Multifamily construction strengthened as demand remained robust. Residential real estate activity was little changed."

• St Louis: "The residential real estate market has remained strong since our previous report."

• Minneapolis: "Residential construction was flat and residential real estate slowed."

• San Francisco: "Residential real estate demand remained strong despite historically high prices and rising mortgage rates. Nonetheless, some contacts mentioned that they expect a slowdown in demand due to increasing mortgage rates. "