Wednesday, October 20, 2010

AIA: Architecture Billings Index shows expansion, first time since Jan 2008

by Bill McBride on 10/20/2010 12:00:00 AM

Note: This index is a leading indicator for new Commercial Real Estate (CRE) investment.

Reuters reports that the American Institute of Architects’ Architecture Billings Index increased to 50.4 in September from 48.2 in August. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

"The strong upturn in design activity in the commercial and industrial sector certainly suggests that this upturn can possibly be sustained," said Kermit Baker, AIA's chief economist. "But we will need to see consistent improvement over the next few months in order to feel comfortable about the state of the design and construction industry."
The ABI press release is not online yet.

AIA Architecture Billing Index Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. This is the first time the index has been above 50 since Jan 2008.

Note: Nonresidential construction includes commercial and industrial facilities like hotels and office buildings, as well as schools, hospitals and other institutions.

According to the AIA, there is an "approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending" on non-residential construction. So, if the index stays at 50 or above, this suggests there will probably be further declines in CRE investment for the next 9 to 12 months.

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