Housing hits strong pace in all districts: Beige Book
With the exception of Dallas, all of the Federal Reserve districts reported modest to moderate growth in economic activity in the Fed’s latest April Beige Book.
Residential real estate, construction activity and commercial real estate improved markedly since the March report, with all districts seeing strength in housing activity and loan demand improving in most districts.
Residential real estate activity increased at a moderate to strong pace in all districts due to higher demand and declining inventory levels -- a factor that tends to buoy prices.
Almost all surveyed districts reported higher home sale prices with a few exceptions.
The report sounds the alarm on Kansas City, saying appraisals in the area are not keeping up with home price increases.
The rental market remains tight with particular noticeable increases in rental rates in New York.
Residential construction increased across all districts with multifamily projects driving a significant portion of the activity.
For instance, Minneapolis witnessed a huge percentage increase in building permits from a year ago while an increase in construction has pushed up the price of building lots in the region represented by the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank.
Construction continues to be volatile.
In particular, the Philadelphia Fed District said builders are facing headwinds as long as the housing recession is disrupting the supply chain for materials and the pool of skilled workers.
Commercial real estate and construction activity managed to expand at a modest to moderate pace in most districts.
New York and Chicago noted an increase in demand for leasing — a factor pushing up commercial rents.
Nonetheless, some districts are still seeing commercial activity fall.
San Francisco noted in some regions, construction of publicly funded commercial projects has slowed due to funding constraints from state and local governments.
Overall, bank lending increased modestly since the last Beige Book report.
One example is Dallas, an area that reported robust growth in residential mortgages and auto lending with continued weakness in corporate transactions.
Credit quality also improved.
New York and Cleveland reported widespread decreases in delinquency rates for business and consumer loans.