Wednesday, August 26, 2015

AIA: Architecture Billings Index indicated expansion in July

by Bill McBride on 8/26/2015 09:31:00 AM

This was released last week while I was on vacation.

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

From the AIA: Architecture Firm Billings Continued to Rise in July

Business conditions at U.S. architecture firms continued to improve in July. While the pace of growth of architecture firm billings decreased modestly from June, the ABI score of 54.7 for the month indicates that firm billings remain on the upswing overall. In addition, there continues to be plenty of work in the pipeline, with firms reporting strong inquiries into new projects as well as the highest design contracts score since the end of 2014.
...
By firm specialization, firms with an institutional focus are still reporting some of the strongest business conditions they have ever experienced, and firms with a commercial/industrial specialization continue to recover from some softness earlier in the year. In addition, firms with a residential specialization are coming close to emerging from the slump that they have experienced for the last six months, which came on the heels of several years of strong growth. Scores for this segment have been ticking up for the last two months and will hopefully return to positive territory before the end of the summer.
...
Sector index breakdown: institutional (57.3), commercial / industrial (53.4) multi-family residential (49.8)
emphasis added
AIA Architecture Billing Index Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 54.7 in July, down from 55.7 in June. 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.  The multi-family residential market was negative for the sixth consecutive month - and this might be indicating a slowdown for apartments - or at least less growth.

According to the AIA, there is an "approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending" on non-residential construction.  This index was positive in 10 of the last 12 months, suggesting a further increase in CRE investment over the next 12 months.