The Federal Reserve's latest Beige Book reports increased mortgage refinancing activity and bank lending overall, with the New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Kansas City regions all noting higher loan demand.
The report revealed residential real estate activity remained slow, with weak single-family home construction in particular. Commercial construction activity was also slow, although districts such as Dallas were exceptions to the trend, with falling inventories and some improvements in sales. Differences also existed between property types and tiers, with financing readily available for higher-end markets, such as in Boston.
"Apartment demand rose even more since the last report, and contacts are very positive in their outlooks. Some respondents noted increased sales of apartment complexes to investors," reported Dallas district researchers.
New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago and Minneapolis all reported an increase in multifamily construction, and some districts indicated limited improvements in commercial and industrial construction as well, although those sectors were more mixed.
In Boston, the residential market was relatively stable and is expected to either decline slightly or perform on par with 2010. Commercial properties in areas such as Back Bay and Cambridge have lower vacancy rates than other submarkets in the region, and rents have risen as a result.