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Beige Book: Housing continues to expand through the spring

Forecast ahead stays positive

Real estate activity continued to expand in the twelve Federal Reserve Districts since the last housing report, and the forecats ahead looks positive, according to the latest Beige Book.

This comes after April’s report that residential real estate activity was improving steadily in most districts.

Across the nation, homes sales recorded modest to moderate gains, except the Minneapolis district, which strongly rose on a year-over-year basis.

Philadelphia was also an exception since builders reported mixed conditions for new home sales and brokers noted slightly slower existing-home sales in April on a year-over-year basis.

Sales of low- and medium-priced homes outpaced sales of higher-priced homes in the Kansas City district, while the Cleveland district said most new-home contracts were in the move-up price points.

The Dallas district noted declining sales in Houston for mid- priced new homes. Tight inventories restrained sales growth in the Boston and New York districts, although pending sales were up in the Boston district, suggesting that closings would rise in coming months.

Home prices rose across much of the country, which contacts in some districts attributed to low inventories relative to demand.

On the other side, residential construction was flat to up during the reporting period, although a few districts reported a slower pace of homebuilding activity due to financing and capacity constraints and severe weather.

Residential construction activity increased slightly in the Chicago district, where contacts expressed concern that the current strong pace of apartment construction was unsustainable.

Mortgage lending was mixed across the nation, with residential real estate lending growing in the San Francisco District. One contact reported increased hiring of loan originators, processors and underwriters to meet growing mortgage demand.

The Richmond, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Dallas districts posted an uptick in residential mortgage loans, and contacts in the Cleveland District said the increase in residential mortgage demand was largely for new home purchases. 

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