WASHINGTON - The real estate lending market continued to improve from August through October, but at a slower pace than in the three previous months, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Monday.

That finding is from the agency's Quarterly Survey of Real Estate Trends, which compiles the opinions of senior examiners from the federal bank and thrift regulatory agencies about the strength of their local real estate markets. The survey generates an index of the market's strength.

Ratings above 50 indicate an improving market, and below 50 a declining market.

The composite rating in October was 62, a decline of 7 points from July.

Monday's release was the last quarterly version of the survey, which will be conducted twice a year from now on.

Cynthia Angell, an economist with the FDIC, said readers' comments pointed to a need for a survey covering "more markets in greater detail."

The first expanded survey will be published in August.

In the October survey, only 31% of respondents said they thought their residential real estate market improved, down from 45% in the previous survey.

The falloff was noted in all regions of the country.

As for commercial real estate, the percentage of respondents reporting improvement dipped to 33%, from 35%.

Most of the slowing was in the Midwest and West.

"We are continuing to carefully monitor developments in local commercial real estate markets for signs of potential overbuilding, such as increases in excess commercial space," said FDIC chairman Donna Tanoue.

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