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Beige Book Shows Flat House Prices, Weak Loan Demand

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Residential real estate conditions improved somewhat although house prices remained flat or fell slightly across various districts since the last publication of the Federal Reserve's Beige Book. The Beige Book is an economic indicator published eight times a year by the US central banking regulator. It incorporates reports from all 12 Federal Reserve districts. House prices "firmed" in the Dallas and San Francisco districts and stabilized in the Chicago and Kansas City districts in the Fed's latest report. A majority of districts indicated lower-priced segments outperformed the high end of the housing market. The New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Kansas City districts noted relative weakness at the high end and relative strength at the low end of the market. The Fed attributed this strength to the first-time homebuyer tax credit. Loan demand weakened overall in the New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, St. Louis, Kansas City and Dallas districts, with demand for mortgage loans showing "particular weakness" in New York. The Richmond and St. Louis districts, on the other hand, indicated mortgage loans represent the "strongest" demand segment. Chicago reported an uptick in commercial real estate lending in the current Beige Book, mainly due to refinancing. Write to Diana Golobay.

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