JAN 15, 2014 5:40pm ET

Beige Book Picks Up Positive Signs for Home Sales

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Demand for purchase loans increased “slightly” in most Federal Reserve Bank districts from late November through December, according to the latest Beige Book.

In addition, most of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks reported increased residential sales and construction activity in their districts.

“Home sales, prices and rents all rose, though the slow foreclosure process continued to impede existing home sales,” says the Chicago district bank.

Mortgage lending was mixed because of the decline in refinancing. “Furthermore, contacts indicated that tight lending standards remain a barrier to new mortgage finance,” the Chicago district bank says in its Beige Book report. The Federal Reserve Board released the Beige Book Wednesday.

The Dallas bank reported that single-family home sales and buyer traffic “picked up over the past six weeks, although sales remained below year-ago levels.” Contacts expect new home construction in the Dallas district will increase in “early 2014 because of extremely low home inventories.”

Further West, “the pace of home sale picked up in a few areas that had seen a drop-off earlier in the year,” says the San Francisco bank. “However, some builders are concerned that further increases in mortgage interest rates would dampen home sales.”

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