Wednesday, January 20, 2016

AIA: "Architecture Billings Index Ends Year on Positive Note"

by Bill McBride on 1/20/2016 03:11:00 PM

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

From the AIA: Architecture Billings Index Ends Year on Positive Note

There were a few occasions where demand for design services decreased from a month-to-month basis in 2015, but the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) concluded the year in positive terrain and was so in eight of the twelve months of the year. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the December ABI score was 50.9, up from the mark of 49.3 in the previous month. This score reflects a slight increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 60.2, up from a reading of 58.6 the previous month.

“As has been the case for the past several years, there continues to be a mix of business conditions that architecture firms are experiencing,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Overall, however, ABI scores for 2015 averaged just below the strong showing in 2014, which points to another healthy year for construction this year.”
• Regional averages: West (53.7), South (53.3), Northeast (46.7), Midwest (46.1)

• Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (52.9), institutional (52.2), commercial / industrial (47.3), mixed practice (46.5)
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 50.9 in December, down from 49.3 in November. 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 most of the year - suggesting a slowdown or less growth for apartments - but has been positive for the last three months.

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 8 of the last 12 months, suggesting a further increase in CRE investment in 2016.