From the NY Fed:
Construction and Real Estate
Housing markets have shown further signs of softening since the last report, with much of the weakness again attributed to the expiration of the home-buyer tax credit. Buffalo-area Realtors say the market has cooled dramatically and describe home sales activity as “totally dead” in July and early August; historically low mortgage rates are said to be having little if any positive effect. They also report that pending sales activity has fallen sharply and that the number of active listings has increased. One contact in western New York State anticipates consolidation in the real estate industry, as some agents and brokers are likely to merge or exit the market. Across New York State more broadly, the number of sales transactions fell by roughly half from June to July–a far steeper drop than the seasonal norm–and was down 35 percent from a year earlier. The median reported sales price rose in July and was up from a year earlier, though one industry contact notes that this may reflect a shift in the mix, as the expiration of the tax credit predominantly affected the lower end of the market. An authority on New Jersey’s housing industry reports that market conditions appear to be weak but concedes that underlying fundamentals are difficult to gauge during this perennially slow season. With builders holding off on new construction, inventories have gotten quite low, though prices still seem to be drifting lower. Most of the multi-family development along New Jersey’s “Gold Coast” (across from Manhattan) has now shifted to rentals.
In New York City, conditions were more mixed. Activity in the city’s co-op and condo market has fallen off by somewhat more than the seasonal norm in July and August, following a brisk second quarter; activity has dropped off particularly sharply on Long Island and, in general, at the lower end of the market. A leading appraisal firm reports that prices remain essentially flat in Manhattan and across New York City generally. The appraisal business has reportedly remained strong. Manhattan’s rental market, though still somewhat slack, has continued to recover: rental activity has remained stable at a moderate level, while effective rents have rebounded–contract rents have risen only modestly, but landlords are offer fewer concessions (i.e. fewer months free rent). A considerable volume of new development will be coming onto the market, probably largely as rentals, in the months ahead.