Keeping with a trend seen for most of the year, commercial real estate activity continued to improve across most of the 12 Federal Reserve Board districts.
According to the Fed’s most recent Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions, commonly referred to as the Beige Book, modest gains were reported in Philadelphia, Richmond, Va., Chicago, and Minneapolis.
Released Wednesday, the report collected analysis between Oct. 24 and Nov. 14.
Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Va., San Francisco and St. Louis make up the Fed’s 12 districts.
The gains among Cleveland's contacts were tempered by reports in recent weeks of a slowdown in inquiries and a decline in public-sector projects, according to the Fed report. Kansas City described activity as holding firm and noted that real estate markets remained stronger than a year ago.
Demand for office and industrial space continued to increase in Dallas, although contacts at some businesses said they were holding back on expansions due to uncertainty, the Fed said.
Still, other districts noted segments of little change in commercial real estate activity including Boston, which described market fundamentals as flat. San Francisco reported market conditions as stable but with pockets of strength for large infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges.
Meanwhile, while there was some signs of recent softening, Hurricane Sandy appeared to not have impacted office markets across upstate New York, the district reported. Commercial and industrial conditions were mixed in the St. Louis district and throughout most of New York prior to the hurricane.
New York did report that demand for consumer and especially commercial and industrial loans weakened, but commercial and residential mortgage demand was steady.
Some bankers in Richmond encountered a slight improvement in overall loan demand but added that consumer loans were unchanged from meager levels and small business loans were virtually non-existent.
According to St. Louis contacts, overall lending activity was essentially unchanged over the period. While credit standards for commercial and industrial loans were largely unchanged, both the demand for these loans and the number of inquiries ranged from moderately lower to moderately higher, the district reported.
Used car loan demand was weak in the Dallas district, although first mortgage and energy-related lending increased, according to the Beige Book.
San Francisco cited weak-to-moderate business loan demand, but consumer lending expanded further with the help of auto loans and home mortgage refinancing.
Most remaining districts, including Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Kansas City reported moderate increases in total loan demand.
The Fed reported improvements in credit standards and credit quality. Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City noted that credit standards on most types of loans were unchanged, and Dallas cited a loosening of credit standards, which contributed to very competitive loan pricing.
Atlanta cited contacts who reported that underwriting standards had become more restrictive and burdensome since its last report, both in terms of credit scores and information requests.
With respect to loan quality, New York reported that delinquency rates increased in the consumer and commercial and industrial segments but held steady in the residential and commercial mortgage segments.
Philadelphia contacts cited moderate improvement while Cleveland and Richmond noted improvements in delinquency rates across consumer and business loan categories. Richmond added, however, that some contacts were concerned that banks were increasing their risk exposure by making longer-term loans in an effort to get higher yields.