The Federal Reserve’s Beige book has been released, and it’s largely positive about the regional real estate market, though it notes the recent sluggishness:
Home and condo sales in the First District showed significant year-over-year increases in May, continuing the trend of the last several months. Contacts attribute the gains to low interest rates, affordable prices, and pent-up demand. A contact from the Greater Boston area adds that improving economic conditions and raising rents in the area have also contributed to sales activity. The consecutive months of growth have improved confidence in the market, but contacts note a recent decrease in momentum compared to previous months. According to most contacts, the pace of market activity has declined slightly, which may be revealed by sales figures in the coming months. Some contacts note that an unseasonably warm winter and spring provided an early boost to sales in the first half of the year, which may account for some softening in activity during the past month. Meanwhile, price changes are mixed across the region. Maine experienced an increase of approximately 7 percent relative to last year while the median sale price in Rhode Island slipped at least 8 percent. Other states in the region experienced relatively modest changes in price levels from a year ago. Some contacts express concern over appraisal practices, claiming banks appraisers are underestimating home values. Inventory levels declined throughout much of the region, particularly in the Greater Boston area.