Wednesday, June 21, 2017

AIA: Architecture Billings Index positive in May

by Bill McBride on 6/21/2017 09:15:00 AM

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

From the AIA: Design billings maintain solid footing, with strong momentum reflected in both project inquiries and design contracts

Design services at architecture firms continue to project a healthy disposition on the construction industry as the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) recorded the fourth consecutive month of growth. 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 May ABI score was 53.0, up from a score of 50.9 in the previous month. This score reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 62.4, up from a reading of 60.2 the previous month, while the new design contracts index increased from 53.2 to 54.8.

“The fact that the data surrounding both new project inquiries and design contracts have remained positive every month this year, while reaching their highest scores for the year, is a good indication that both the architecture and construction sectors will remain healthy for the foreseeable future,” AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “This growth hasn’t been an overnight escalation, but rather a steady, stable increase.”
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• Regional averages: South (56.1), West (52.3), Midwest (50.4), Northeast (46.5)

• Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (55.8), multi-family residential (51.3), commercial / industrial (51.2), institutional (51.2)
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 53.0 in May, up from 50.9 the previous month. 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.  This index was positive in 9 of the last 12 months, suggesting a further increase in CRE investment in 2017 and early 2018.