WASHINGTON - Real estate markets nationwide remained stable or improved during the first half of the year, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported Friday.

For its latest "Survey of Real Estate Trends" the FDIC polled 256 bank examiners from the four banking and thrift agencies. The majority of the examiners reported no change in five key residential and commercial real estate categories: single-family, 58%; multifamily, 72%; office, 72%; retail, 78%; and industrial, 73%.

Most of the other respondents said conditions in those categories had improved, especially in residential real estate.

The FDIC unveiled several changes to its 9-year-old survey, which is now semiannual instead of quarterly. The survey now provides information on metropolitan areas as well as regions, and it subdivides residential and commercial markets into more specific categories.

Fifty-seven percent of the respondents said prices for existing single-family homes had increased, and 61% said those for new single-family homes had done so.

Rising prices for new and existing homes were reported across the West, particularly in Billings, Mont., Boise, Idaho, Denver, Honolulu, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and Orange County, Calif.

Examiners reported better overall market conditions in three major metropolitan areas - Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; St. Louis; and Tampa - as well as in six smaller ones - Austin, Tex.; Boise, Idaho; Buffalo; Fargo, N.D.; Sacramento; and Westchester County. N.Y.

However, overall conditions were worse in Atlanta, in part because of lagging home sales, and in several smaller markets, such as Memphis and New Orleans, the survey said.

Forty-five percent of the respondents said there not enough single-family homes to meet the demand, while 15% said there were too many. Excess supplies were noted in Albuquerque, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, and Providence, R.I.

Multifamily housing vacancy rates were unchanged, according to 62% of survey respondents. While 24% said multifamily housing construction increased, 52% said it was unchanged.

Sixty percent of the respondents reported no change in office rental rates.

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