Residential markets remained "robust" in most parts of the country in September and early October, but have appeared to "soften" since the summer, according to the Federal Reserve Board's Beige Book.The New York Federal Reserve district bank was the "only district to report a general increase in housing market activity," the Fed says in its periodic report on economic activity. The San Francisco district bank reported strong demand and sales for housing in California's Central Valley. "By contrast, demand and sales softened in parts of Southern California, as witnessed by increased time on the market and prompting builders to increase incentives," the Beige Book says. Meanwhile, home prices in Massachusetts are 12.5% higher than a year ago, and the inventory of high-priced homes has increased. "Most contacts anticipate the markets will remain stable in the next few months as long as interest rates stay low," the Boston Federal Bank says in the Beige Book.

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