Wednesday, March 21, 2012

AIA: Architecture Billings Index indicated expansion in February

by Bill McBride on 3/21/2012 12:21:00 PM

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

From AIA: Architecture Billings Index Remains Positive for Fourth Straight Month

Led by the commercial sector, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has remained in positive territory four months in a row. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the February ABI score was 51.0, following a mark of 50.9 in January. This score reflects a slight increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 63.4, up from mark of 61.2 the previous month and its highest reading since July 2007.

“This is more good news for the design and construction industry that continues to see improving business conditions,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “The factors that are preventing a more accelerated recovery are persistent caution from clients to move ahead with new projects, and a continued difficulty in accessing financing for projects that developers have decided to pursue.”
AIA Architecture Billing Index Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 51.0 in February (slight expansion). Anything above 50 indicates expansion in demand for architects' services.

Note: This includes commercial and industrial facilities like hotels and office buildings, multi-family residential, 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 this suggests further declines in CRE investment in early 2012, but perhaps stabilizing mid-year.

All current Commercial Real Estate graphs

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