While residential real estate remains weak overall, many local markets are showing signs of improvement, according to the Federal Reserve’s Commentary on Current Economic Conditions, also known as the Beige Book. Sales volume is up, especially in the Fed’s Minneapolis and San Francisco districts, and with the exception of the St. Louis district, sales declines are letting up. The Fed credited the federal government’s $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit for the improvement to the low-end of the residential housing market, especially in its New York, Kansas City and Dallas districts. While sales are up, prices are still down. Many districts pointed to foreclosures as the cause  of continued decline in prices. New residential construction remains low due to financing difficulties. All of the districts reported varied levels of weak or slow commercial real estate leasing. Commercial real estate sales are low and even non-existent in some markets due to tight credit and weak demand, and most construction activity is on the decline. Overall, the 12 districts reported economic activity would be weak throughout the summer, but the decline has shown signs of bottoming out. Write to Austin Kilgore.

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