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Home refinancing and multifamily demand on the rise: Beige Book

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Economic activity increased at a slow to moderate pace across Federal Reserve districts, except the St. Louis district, which reported a decline, according to the latest Beige Book, based on anecdotes from business contacts and economists. Overall bank lending increased slightly since the previous report, and home refinancing grew at a more rapid pace while residential real estate remained sluggish. Economic activity increased at a slow to moderate pace across Federal Reserve districts, except the St. Louis district, which reported a decline, according to the latest Beige Book, based on anecdotes from business contacts and economists. Overall bank lending increased slightly since the previous report, and home refinancing grew at a more rapid pace while residential real estate remained sluggish. New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Kansas City reported increased loan demand. Several districts reported an increase in home refinancing activity. Boston noted plentiful financing and favorable terms for premier properties, while financing remained harder to obtain for riskier properties and for those in secondary and tertiary markets. Atlanta saw soft loan demand as companies continued to reduce their debt loads and limit expansion and capital improvement plans. Residential real estate activity remained sluggish, according to the report, released Wednesday. Single-family home construction was weak and commercial construction was slow. Dallas was a bright spot on the housing front with continued improvement in the district. "Inventories of existing homes fell further since the last report, and new home inventories remained lean," the Dallas district reported. "Single-family home sales are better, according to contacts, but economic uncertainty is keeping many would-be buyers on the sidelines. Apartment demand rose even more since the last report, and contacts are very positive in their outlooks. Some respondents noted increased sales of apartment complexes to investors." Multifamily construction picked up in New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago and Minneapolis. San Francisco remained "anemic," while St. Louis and Kansas City reported decreased activity. In the Atlanta district, which includes Florida, condo activity was expected to rise. "Contacts in South Florida signaled that condominium development was expected to get under way soon because of strong demand from foreign investors, many of whom pay with cash," the report said. "Developers plan to cover costs by requiring a significant upfront payment from the purchasers before construction begins." The survey was based on information collected on or before Nov. 18. Write to Kerry Curry. Follow her on Twitter @communicatorKLC.

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