From the Federal Reserve:
The Second District’s economy has shown more signs of stabilizing in recent weeks, though, on balance, economic activity may still be contracting. The labor market remains exceptionally weak but with some signs of leveling off. Manufacturing sector contacts report stable conditions and are generally optimistic about the near–term outlook. Retailers indicate that sales were steady in June and early July while continuing to run well below 2008 levels. Consumer confidence was mixed but generally steady at a low level in June. Tourism activity in New York City has also been sluggish but little changed since the last report, as have been commercial real estate markets. Housing markets have shown some signs of stabilizing in northern New Jersey and upstate New York but continued to deteriorate in New York City and especially in Manhattan. Finally, bankers report a downturn in loan demand-particularly from the household sector-as well as ongoing tightening in credit standards and steady to higher delinquency rates.
Construction and Real Estate
Housing markets remained soft throughout most of the District, though there were signs of stabilization in a number of areas. Contacts in northern New Jersey indicate that the market has a somewhat more positive tone than in recent months: prices, though still down about 15 percent over the year, appear to have stabilized somewhat and volume has picked up moderately. There is still reported to be a moderate degree of new development of multi-family buildings along the Hudson waterfront, but otherwise new construction activity is described as moribund. New construction in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area was reported to be exceptionally slow in April and May but picked up in June; while the high end of the market has weakened somewhat, sales activity at the low end ($150,000 and under) has reportedly been fairly brisk, with multiple bids, sometimes above the asking price. This strength was largely attributed to the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers. Overall, home prices have held relatively steady in western New York State.
New York City’s market, however, has shown further signs of deteriorating, in both the sales and rental markets. In the second quarter, the median sales price for existing co-ops and condos in Manhattan reportedly fell 26 percent from a year earlier, while the number of sales transactions fell 50 percent; the inventory (number of units listed) was up 9%, though there is reported to be a substantial “shadow” inventory of new apartments-condo units that are unsold but not yet listed. Brooklyn’s and Queens’ markets have also slackened in the second quarter, with median prices of existing apartments reported to be down 15 to 17 percent from a year earlier, and the number of transactions down roughly 30 percent. The city’s rental market has also slackened further, with asking rents reported to be down 8-12 percent over the past year, and actual rents off more than 17 percent, on a per square foot basis. Also, landlords are increasingly offering concessions-free rent for one or more months–in slack neighborhoods.