The Federal Reserve has released its latest Beige Book report and it offers a snapshot of an economy that saw continued improvement, increased consumer and business spending and people rushing to take advantage of the homebuyer tax credit by the April 30 deadline.

While the commercial real estate market remained weak, residential market activity improved in most districts, due in part to the expiring tax credit, according to the Federal Reserve. In the Chicago district, “single-family home prices held steady, but downward pricing pressure continued to be strong for condominiums.”

There were other positive trends including increased real estate lending despite tight standards and an improving secondary market for residential mortgages in the Chicago district.

Other highlights from the latest Beige Book report:

  • Consumer spending was up in April and May including noticeable increases in home improvement and lawn and garden spending as homeowners geared up for the summer.
  • Manufacturing activity was up, particularly in automotive, energy, medical and consumer goods industries.
  • Credit conditions have improved and banks are reporting better loan quality and greater availability of private mortgage insurance.