Federal Reserve: commercial real estate activity improves slightly.

Position:Commercial

Commercial and multifamily real estate activity generally improved since early January, the Federal Reserve reported in its Beige Book.

Commercial real estate sales picked up on balance, though sales varied widely from flat to strong across the 12 Fed districts.

Fed contacts from the New York district reported sluggish single-family construction but "robust" multifamily construction. The Boston; Richmond, Virginia; and San Francisco districts also reported strong multifamily construction growth, and the St. Louis district noted seeing more speculative multifamily construction projects.

Commercial occupancy rates rose in the San Francisco district, spurring higher lease rates and additional construction projects, the Fed said. Commercial vacancy rates approached pre-recession lows in Minneapolis despite significant new construction, and St. Paul, Minnesota, saw more commercial net absorption in the last year than in the previous 10 years combined.

Similarly, industrial real estate vacancy rates decreased across the Cleveland, St. Louis and Dallas districts, the Fed reported. "Demand for commercial real estate space grew robustly in Chicago across retail, industrial and office segments, but...

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