Reports on home sales were more upbeat in March. In particular, reports on existing home sales were stronger as the deadline for taking advantage of the federal housing stimulus began to approach. However, this second round of the housing stimulus did not appear to boost sales as much as the stimulus last fall. Construction data continued to improve from very low levels while reports from contacts indicated that construction activity may have peaked and was winding down in response to new home sales that were more lackluster than existing home sales. Generally, the outlook among both Realtors and homebuilders indicated that home sales and construction activity would at best hold steady or perhaps weaken as the home stimulus expired at the end of April.
Commercial development remained weak across the District. In recent months it appeared that activity had begun to stabilize and perhaps improve. Recent data releases indicate that activity will remain at historically weak levels for some time.