Beige Book: Housing improves in all districts
All 12 Federal Reserve districts reported modest to moderate growth in economic activity in the Fed’s latest March Beige Book.
Residential and commercial real estate improved markedly since the February report, while home prices rose in many areas of the country and loan demand remained steady in most districts.
Residential real estate activity posted increased momentum in most districts including, Cleveland, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Richmond and San Francisco.
In particular, New York posted significant growth in residential real estate, with both the for-sale housing and apartment markets picking up.
Meanwhile, home sales continued to rise in most districts.
For instance, although homebuyer demand was high in Boston, low inventory levels restrained home sales, keeping growth modest.
Home sales were reportedly strong in both Atlanta and Dallas, while Richmond noted low inventories pushed up contracts to well above listing prices.
Additionally, Boston and New York said multiple bids on properties increased.
Tight inventories and strong sales led to rising home prices in many areas, including Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City, Minneapolis and San Francisco.
Within New York, condo sales volumes strengthened and low inventories began to drive up selling prices in New York City and surrounding areas, while New Jersey home prices rose modestly.
New home construction continued to pick up in most districts, although Richmond said that a low supply of residential building materials stalled construction.
Additionally, only Philadelphia noted that residential construction decelerated somewhat, although home sales were still growing modestly.
Multifamily construction increased in several areas including Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.
Furthermore, New York apartment rents accelerated in early 2013, due to stronger demand coupled with historically low inventories.
Cleveland, Dallas and San Francisco said apartment demand also remained strong.
Loan demand was steady to slightly up at most district banks that commented on lending.
However, Philadelphia said loan volumes softened somewhat since the previous report.
Meanwhile, New York noted widespread increases in loan demand, particularly for commercial loans and residential mortgages.
Additionally, Dallas saw broad-based improved in loan demand as home equity lending bounded up from low levels.
San Francisco said increased growth in mortgage loans spurred overall improvements in volume demand.
Several districts including Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Richmond and San Francisco noted that loan pricing remained very competitive.