Business Contacts Surveys - September 2010
Construction and Real Estate Survey Results
Reports from Southeast brokers and builders indicated that home sales continued to weaken in August on a year-over-year basis. However, Florida brokers noted that sales declines moderated.
- Florida brokers noted that sales declines moderated; while elsewhere in the region, sales continued to soften on a year-over-year basis.
- Florida and Georgia homebuilders also noted that sales declines moderated somewhat in August while sales softened further in the remainder of the region.
- A look at sales on a month-to-month basis indicated that sales softened from July to August across the region, with more respondents indicating sales were down significantly compared with more modest responses in July.
Brokers in the Southeast indicated that home sales continued to weaken at the high end of the market while sales improved slightly in the middle and low end of the market.
Southeast brokers said that existing home inventories continued to rise while builders reported that new home inventories began to trend up on a year-over-year basis.
Despite weaker demand, both Southeast brokers and builders indicated that home price growth declines moderated somewhat in August.
- Comments from both brokers and builders noted mounting downward pressure on home prices across the region, particularly from foreclosures.
- Builders, in particular, were concerned about the number of foreclosed and bank-owned properties coming into the market. Some noted that they could only cut prices so far while banks sold homes well below loan value.
Buyer traffic in the Southeast remained weak.
- Florida brokers actually noted a pickup in buyer traffic, slightly ahead of a year earlier, while elsewhere in the region buyer traffic continued to weaken.
The outlook for sales growth over the next several months continued to weaken in August. However, comparisons are against strong sales stimulated by the initial housing stimulus.
Southeast builders reported that home construction activity weakened further in August on a year-over-year basis, and the outlook worsened as well.
Note: August survey results are based on responses from 149 residential brokers and 54 builders and were collected September 7–15.
The housing survey's diffusion indexes are calculated as the percentage of total respondents reporting increases minus the percentage reporting declines. Positive values in the index indicate increased activity while negative values indicate decreased activity.
The District Retail Survey showed continued weakness in the retail sector for August; however, the outlook was more optimistic than in recent months.
- Most respondents reported that activity in August was below what they had planned for, and, compared with July, sales were mixed. Respondents noted that low-end products and apparel were strong sellers last month.
- After several months of divided responses regarding their outlook, merchants were more positive in August, with the majority expecting sales to increase in the next three months.
Note: August survey results are based on responses from 31 retailers and were collected September 7–16.
The retail survey's diffusion index is calculated as the percentage of total respondents reporting increases minus the percentage reporting declines. Positive values in the index indicate increased activity while negative values indicate decreased activity.