Today, the Federal Reserve’s released its Beige Book for February 2015, which found that residential real estate conditions were mixed among the 12 districts. Home sales increased in Boston, Philadelphia, Richmond, St. Louis, Dallas, and San Francisco, but fell in Cleveland and Kansas City. Weather conditions slowed home construction in New York, Philadelphia, and Cleveland and caused Boston to have low levels of inventory. The report notes that lack of desirable lots and low inventory levels continue to slow the market.
Philadelphia, Boston, and New York all saw relative growth. All six New England states saw an increase in single-family home sales at the end of December 2014. In Massachusetts, December was only the second month, of the past six, with a year-over-year increase in home sales, while prices have increased 26 out of the last 27 months. The New York District’s housing markets have strengthened somewhat in early 2015. Rents across the rest of the District are up roughly 2 percent over the past year. Housing markets across the rest of New York State and New Jersey have mostly been sluggish, in part due to the inclement weather. Although home sales are increasing rapidly in Philadelphia, growth is slower in the rest of the state.
Residential real estate activity increased moderately in the Richmond district. Realtors in Virginia and North Carolina reported increased sales, especially for higher end homes in North Carolina. Home sales increased in the St. Louis district on a year-over-year basis. Compared with the same period in 2013, December 2014 monthly home sales were up 5 percent in Louisville, 11 percent in Little Rock, and 29 percent in St. Louis.
Home sales rose in Dallas, although reports on the pace of growth were mixed. Contacts in Dallas-Fort Worth noted a strong, earlier-than-normal pickup in traffic and sales, while demand in Houston held steady. Home prices continued to edge upward in this district.
Home sales fell in Cleveland and Kansas City. Cleveland single-family home sales for all of 2014 were down slightly below last year, while the average sale price rose 4 percent. Kansas City residential sales decreased modestly in part to seasonal sale patterns and low inventory. Sale of low and medium priced homes continued to outpace sales of higher priced homes in the city.
When measuring banking and finance, the report found that residential lending was positive at all reporting banks, with bankers in Cleveland, Richmond, Chicago, and San Francisco reporting an increase in refinancing activity.