Federal Reserve Report Paints Brighter Picture of U.S. Economy

Real Estate Agent with Palatium Auction and Appraisal Service, Real Estate Auctions, Estate, Moving, Downsizing Auctions 618-233-1000 USPAP Appraisals proesch@ptauctions.net

According to the Federal Reserve’s well-recognized Beige Book report, U.S. economic conditions have shown signs of improvement through the first part of this year.

The central bank’s report is a summary of economic activity from businesses and contacts outside the Federal Reserve from across the country. Its latest Beige Book, issued this week, was compiled in preparation for the Fed board’s March 16th policy meeting and is based on information collected through February 22.

Data from nine (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco) of the 12 Federal Reserve districts indicated that economic activity improved, but in most cases the increases were “modest,” the Fed said.

Conditions in the Atlanta and St. Louis districts were described as “mixed,” while Richmond reported that economic activity in that part of the country “slackened or remained soft across most sectors,” due largely to severe weather conditions in February in that region.

Residential real estate markets improved in a number of districts, according to the report. However, New York, Atlanta, and Chicago noted that activity remained weak or softened further. San Francisco accounted for little change, and the St. Louis district characterized residential conditions as mixed. Richmond also reported overall housing activity as mixed, but noted that absent the harsh weather, market conditions might have improved.

Most districts attributed stronger home sales to the federal tax credit for homebuyers, with several contacts apprehensive about future sales once the credit expires. Philadelphia, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Dallas reported that sales were strongest for low-priced and starter homes, while Dallas cited financing difficulties for high-end homes.

Home prices mostly remained flat or declined slightly, but signs of improvement were noted in the Boston and San Francisco districts. A real estate agent in a relatively upscale area of the New York district said prices have continued to drift downward but that short sales were relatively rare and most transactions were still above the mortgage balance.

Most districts characterized commercial real estate and construction activity as weak or having declined further, but some districts noted slight stabilization and a few signs of modest improvement. Dallas noted that leasing fell at a slower rate and San Francisco cited increased leasing in some segments. New York reported steadying in vacancies and rents outside of New York City. Several districts also noted that many tenants were pushing for, and in some cases receiving, concessions on rents.

Loan demand remained weak across the country, and most districts indicated that banks remained cautious about lending and underwriting standards remained tight.

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Paul Roesch
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Richard T. Dolbeare, R(B)
eXp Realty - Wailuku, HI
R(B), ABR, CRS...Hawaii Multi-Island Specialist

Hi Paul.  Like most, I hope it's the real thing and not just an inflection point.  Time will tell.

Mar 08, 2010 12:57 PM #1
Tami Behler
Prudential Bob Yost Homesale Services - York, PA

We are all hoping for some bright news during these tough times.  While we may be hearing of a few signs of a stabilizing market, I don't hold out much hope until we see positive unemployment numbers.  Then we will have some consumer confidence and only then will we be on the road t o recovery.  Thank you for your post--as Richard said above, time will tell.    

Mar 08, 2010 01:08 PM #2
Steve, Joel & Steve A. Chain
Chain Real Estate Investments & Mortgage, Steve & Joel Chain - Cottonwood, CA


The best growth is not explosive. i agree with #2 jobs are a must have for an expanding economy.


Mar 08, 2010 03:50 PM #3
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