From the Federal Reserve:
Construction and Real Estate
Housing markets have been steady to somewhat firmer since the last report, with the gains largely attributed to the soon-to-expire home-buyer tax credit spurring demand at the lower end. Realtors across New York State report that sales activity was roughly 20 percent higher in April than a year earlier and prices were up about 8 percent on average. Similarly, Buffalo-area Realtors report that home sales were brisk in April, and that prices were up more than 10 percent from a year earlier, though conditions are reported to have cooled off dramatically in May, due to the end of the tax credit. An authority on New Jersey’s housing industry also reports a moderate pickup in sales activity this quarter, particularly at the lower end of the market–again, largely attributed to the home-buyer tax credit. In other segments of northern New Jersey’s market, prices are essentially flat, and price trends are not as robust as builders and developers had expected, as a large “shadow inventory” of existing homes is said to be weighing down the market. There is concern that conditions will weaken again in the third quarter, without the support of the home-buyer tax credit. Housing affordability remains a major issue.
Activity in Manhattan’s co-op and condo market has leveled off, following a modest pickup in the first quarter. The pace of new contract signings has retreated a bit in recent weeks, while prices have held steady at about 20-30 percent below their peak. There remains a large supply of units on the markets, though one contact notes that the inventory of competitively priced units is fairly lean. While the home-buyer tax credit has had little impact on Manhattan’s high-priced market, it has reportedly had a positive effect elsewhere in New York City, where prices are considerably more moderate. Manhattan’s apartment rental market has strengthened since the last report. Rents have recovered modestly, and landlords are offering less generous concessions than last year or even a few months ago. The inventory of available rental units has stabilized.