Monday, March 10, 2008

Word On The Street: Housing Market Grim

Instead of number rows, pie charts and bar graphs, another way to look at the real estate market is to get down to earth and put your ear to the ground. Read the Beige Book.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Deadline Newsroom - Want to know what the experts on the street are saying about the housing market?

Log onto the Federal Reserve's Beige Book and you'll get a one-of-a-kind, down-to-earth examination of the real estate market and its place in the greater economy.

Don't expect another statistically slanted state of the housing market. You won't get another mind-numbing numerical rendition of realty market conditions.

Instead, eight times a year, the Beige Book asks those with boots on the ground to scope out the real estate landscape and tell it like it is.

The feds gather anecdotal evidence from federal district bank and branch directors, economic and business contacts, economists, real estate market experts and others to compile what's perhaps the federal government's most digestible economic report.

The latest report is no exception. Concise and to the point, the sources say pretty much what you probably already know.

Manhattan's condo and co-op market is still hot with home price appreciation up 5 percent in the past year, but that's about it.

From the first district in Boston to the twelfth district in San Francisco, residential real estate markets in the New Year have been slow, slower and sluggish.

Market sources from Chicago, Cleveland and Richmond, Virginia report some growing interest in new home traffic, but that hasn't translated into greater sales.

Housing sales thus far this year were hit hardest in Boston, Minneapolis, Richmond, and St. Louis, according to the report.

Sources from Chicago, Kansas City, and Philadelphia reported particularly tight credit conditions as the primary reason for slow sales -- especially in the low and mid-price ranges.

High inventories made matters worse just about everywhere as residential construction declined or remained low.

It may be a lot easier to get what the Beige Book is saying, but the word on the street sounds pretty much like numbers on the spreadsheet.

• More housing trends.
• More from the Beige Book.

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© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service, and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's new backshop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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