The Dallas Fed released its Beige Book on March 4, 2009. Exerpts on Housing and Commercial Real Estate show some modest improvement since the last report.
“Housing conditions in the Eleventh District remain weak, but there were scattered signs of improvement since the last survey. After a “horrible” fourth quarter wrought with cancellations and a lack of sales, homebuilders reported buyer traffic picked up in January and has been sustained in February. Low interest rates are helping pull potential buyers off the sidelines say contacts. New home sales picked up since the last survey, although they are “nowhere near” the level seen in prior years. Several contacts noted that despite encouraging signs, several smaller builders are expected to exit the market in the coming months. Margins are squeezed, cash flow is extremely tight, and financing is difficult–even for legitimate contracts. Existing home sales continued to decline and median prices edged lower, although contacts say the level of inventory is low and should continue to keep price declines minimal compared with the national average. Several respondents expressed hope that the housing stimulus package would give the market more time to heal, but some noted parts of the plan were not enough to spur sales.
“Commercial real estate transactions remain minimal, yet some contacts noted that “price rediscovery” of real estate assets was starting to happen. Still, most contacts said uncertainty about the size of the write-downs was keeping lenders and sellers on the sidelines. Office leasing activity remained slow but “ok,” according to contacts. The outlook for commercial real estate remains uncertain given that many loans are coming due amid the difficult financing environment. Contacts expect nonresidential construction to decline in 2009.” Read More Here