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Data & Analysis

Business Contacts Surveys - June 2010

Construction and Real Estate Survey Results

Home sales growth on a year-over-year basis was mixed once again in May, according to our survey of Southeast residential brokers and builders.

  • More than three-fourths of residential brokers reported year-over-year gains in May home sales as the sales index improved slightly from April. However, reports indicated that May sales were only slightly ahead of April levels.
  • About a third of builders reported year-over-year gains in May while a third indicated that sales declined.

Southeast residential brokers indicated that improved sales in May were driven by sales of low-end housing.

Southeast residential brokers said that home inventories continued to trend up, exceeding the year-earlier level, while builders reported that home inventories held steady.

Survey contacts reported that home prices remained below the year-earlier level, and softer home prices were mostly noted among residential brokers.

Both Southeast residential brokers and builders noted a drop-off in buyer traffic in May.

The outlook for sales growth over the next several months weakened notably in May.

Southeast builders reported that home construction activity was slightly ahead of the year-earlier level in May, but their responses indicated that construction growth will continue to soften over the next several months.

Note: May survey results are based on responses from 92 residential brokers and 49 builders and were collected June 1–10.

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.

Retail Survey Results

Results from our May survey of Southeastern retailers was positive but not as strong as in recent months.

  • Most respondents reported that traffic as well as sales increased slightly from April to May. However, retailers' response to the question about activity in May compared to plan was mixed, with 40 percent reporting activity below plan and 37 percent reporting above plan.
  • The outlook among the majority of merchants remains optimistic, with 49 percent of retailers expecting an increase in sales in the coming months.
  • While retailers have reported improving conditions since the beginning of the year, activity is still not back to prerecession levels. Several respondents noted the effect of the oil spill as a big risk to the outlook.

Note: May survey results are based on responses from 35 retailers and were collected June 1–10.

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.


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