Economic growth is modest and moderate but steady, according to the latest and somewhat sunny-side Beige Book, the comprehensive economic report published by the Federal Reserve that covers all 12 Fed districts -- but housing markets across the 12 districts varied from poor to hopeful.
Economic conditions continued to expand from January to early February, according to the Beige Book researchers.
Fully eight districts reported modestly improved levels of activity. New York and Philadelphia experienced a decline in economic activity, which was mostly blamed on cold weather.
Growth slowed in Chicago, and Kansas City reported that conditions remained stable during the reporting period.
Nationally, residential real estate markets continued to improve in several areas but as the Fed was quick to underscore – modestly.
Boston and New York saw mixed home sales, and Philadelphia, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and Kansas City reported a definite decline in sales. Several of the 12 fed districts cited low inventories of housing and continued home price appreciation.
Residential housing markets among the 12 districts were mixed, and the regional reports didn’t even list real estate activity as a notable industry in the Beige Book.
Most districts said they saw an improving housing market, but noted that growth had slowed.
Home sales increased in Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, and Dallas, while sales were down in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and Kansas City.
Demand for residential mortgages decreased in New York, Richmond, St. Louis, and Kansas City, and softened in Philadelphia and Dallas. Cleveland and Atlanta noted increased demand for new purchase mortgages, while mortgage refinancing declined in New York, Richmond, Atlanta, and Kansas City. Demand for consumer loans grew slightly in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, and Dallas, and held steady in Kansas City.
Boston and New York reported that the trend in sales for their districts was mixed. New home construction increased in Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, and Minneapolis; remained flat in Kansas City, and was down slightly from the previous period in Philadelphia.
Most districts reported low levels of home inventories and indicated that home prices continued to appreciate. The outlook for sales and residential construction was positive in Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, and San Francisco.
Click below for a detailed report on the housing markets in the Fed's regions.