Real estate improves throughout country in August

All 12 Federal Reserve districts reported residential real estate gains in August from the previous month, while data reflecting trends in commercial markets were also generally positive.

All 12 Federal Reserve districts reported residential real estate gains in August from the previous month, while data reflecting trends in commercial markets were also generally positive.

With housing affordability hovering near an all-time high across the country, buyer demand surged in the San Francisco and Boston districts, according to the latest Beige Book from the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, buyer traffic in the Dallas district increased significantly from June, while Richmond reported a rise in pending home sales throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

However, declining inventories continue to be obstacles for more widespread real estate activity. Property data indicates the Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas and San Francisco areas experienced thinning property supplies, though this did add upward pressure to prices, as buyers became more competitive with each other.

Distressed properties still a concern
  
Housing in certain regions, such as Philadelphia and Kansas City, could still be at risk as a result of looming shadow inventories, the report said. This supply includes properties in the foreclosure process, but which have not yet been repossessed, and borrowers who are at least 90 days behind on mortgage payments.    

Home prices stabilize

In the wake of the housing market collapse, property values plummeted nearly 30 percent in some areas of the country, and this development has weighed heavily on the overall real estate industry. But prices continued to build momentum during the second quarter, which could have been a major factor in the gains reported by the Federal Reserve in August.

Property values spiked 1.2 percent during the three-month period from a year earlier and 6.9 percent from the previous quarter, according to the most recent Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

"Only two cities - Charlotte and Dallas - saw annual rates of change worsen in June," said index committee chairman David Blitzer. "The other 18 cities and both composites saw improvement in this statistic, and 13 of these had a positive trend."

On an annual basis, Phoenix experienced the largest gain, spiking 13.9 percent during the second quarter, while Miami reported the second-biggest increase, at 4.4 percent, the report said.

In contrast, prices in Atlanta plummeted 12.1 percent during the same period. This metropolitan area was one of the hardest-hit areas following the real estate bubble burst and has struggled to find its footing in recent years. However, a recent improvement in the local unemployment rate could be a promising sign for the future of Atlanta's housing market.



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