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Fed: Real Estate Markets Show Widespread Weakness

The ""Federal Reserve"":http://www.federalreserve.gov released a report on Wednesday that suggests a ""steady pace"" of economic growth throughout most of the country, with intermittent spots of economic activity slowing in four of its 12 regional districts, namely Philadelphia, New York, Atlanta, and Chicago.

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Per its conclusions in the regularly published ""Beige Book"":http://www.federalreserve.gov/fomc/beigebook/2011/20110608/FullReport.htm, the Federal Reserve found that ""economic activity generally continued to expand since the last report, though a few districts indicated some deceleration.""

The Beige Book tracks anecdotal evidence from businesses and contacts outside the Federal Reserve. The publication does not reflect the views of Fed officials.

The report indicated that construction and real estate markets ""continued to show widespread weakness, except in the rental segment, where market conditions have strengthened and construction activity and development have picked up.""

Specifically, house prices trended downward for markets inside the Atlanta, Boston, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Richmond, and San Francisco districts, even as prices in the Cleveland and New York districts remained stable. No district seemed to see an increase in home prices.

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Several districts, including Atlanta, Cleveland, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco, confirmed depressed activity in residential construction with the exception of multifamily rental properties, which rose in popularity.

Indicating that elements other than the economy factor into construction sales, the Federal Reserve said that Atlanta's district homebuilders attributed the sluggish level for home sales and construction to an April tornado that devastated residential areas.

Signs of recovery steadily emerged in commercial and industrial real estate markets, with leasing prices on the move in the Richmond and San Francisco districts. Contacts reported spikes in activity lifting the industrial and commercial markets in the Cleveland district.

The Federal Reserve went on to call non-residential leasing markets ""generally stable,"" describing loan demand as ""steady to stronger in most districts, especially in the commercial and industrial sector.""

Noting a modest rise in business loan demand, markets in the Cleveland, Richmond, and St. Louis districts outperformed their counterparts in the Atlanta, Dallas, San Francisco, and New York districts.

Contacts in the St. Louis district reported a higher demand for residential mortgage loans, while those in the Richmond district attributed a surge in loans to large manufacturers with subcontracting needs and heightened confidence by consumers in credit.

Increases in activity by hedge funds, venture capital firms, and other private equity organizations drove the expansion of credit quality in most districts, with only the St. Louis district attributing losses to tightened regulations for home mortgage loans. Consumer loan delinquencies rose only for markets in the New York district.

These activities helped encourage ""widespread improvement"" in the signs of credit quality, the Federal Reserve said.

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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