March 3, 2010 excerpts from Fed Beige Book:

Residential Real Estate
Home and condo sales continued to show significant year-over-year increases in December 2009, belying concerns that year-over-year declines would recur after the huge sales increases in November that were mainly attributed to the first-time homebuyer tax credit. Part of the continued strength may be due to the extension of the tax credit through April 2010 and expansion of the tax credit to include some existing homebuyers. Contacts report year-over-year home sales increases between 15 percent and 36 percent across the six New England states; condo sales increased between 29 percent and 66 percent year-over-year. January data from the Boston area show these home and condo sales trends continuing into 2010. While foreclosure sales and short sales made up 33 percent of sales in December in Rhode Island, this represents an improvement from 43 percent in December 2008.

Home prices also showed signs of improvement in December. While the median home price declined slightly year-over-year in December in New Hampshire, it increased modestly in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine, and rose more substantially in Massachusetts (11 percent) and the Boston area (20 percent, and then 6 percent in January year-over-year). The median condo price fell year-over-year in December in Rhode Island but increased in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. The median condo price in the Boston area increased 27 percent year-over-year in January.

Several contacts believe that sales will continue to increase year-over-year for the next few months while the expanded tax credit is still available. A Boston contact reports that traffic at open houses has been steady. Pending sales numbers for Massachusetts were strong in January.

My thoughts: This seems like an upbeat report. What are your thoughts?

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