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Beige Book: Federal Reserve districts report improved real estate

All 12 Federal Reserve Districts report home sales, home prices or housing construction increased in July and early August, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday in its Beige Book.

Reports on commercial real estate markets are generally positive. The San Francisco district noted stable demand, Boston indicated conditions remained the same since the last report, and Richmond, Chicago, and St. Louis said commercial real estate conditions were mixed.

The Dallas district reported significant levels of buyer traffic, Richmond noted strong pending sales, and Minneapolis and St. Louis mentioned increases in building permits. New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago indicated improvements as well, but characterized the progress as slow and modest.

Declines in inventory levels were reported in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas and San Francisco. The shrinking inventories put some upward pressure on prices according to Boston, Atlanta, and Dallas. A reduction in the stock of distressed properties was mentioned in New York, Richmond and San Francisco.

In Philadelphia and Kansas City, the possibility of shadow inventory entering the market remains a concern. In general, outlooks were positive, with continued increases in activity expected, although the projected gains were more modest in Boston, Cleveland and Kansas City.

Credit conditions improved since early July, according to District reports. Credit spreads fell and competition for high-quality borrowers among lending institutions rose.

The New York District saw shrinking in commercial and industrial loans as well as in commercial mortgages. Some bankers in the Cleveland District mentioned a moderate loosening of lending guidelines. The New York, St. Louis, and Kansas City Districts reported unchanged credit standards, while New York and Cleveland cited declining delinquency rates.

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