Wednesday, October 18, 2017

AIA: Architecture Billings Index "Backslides Slightly" in September

by Bill McBride on 10/18/2017 10:46:00 AM

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

From the AIA: Architecture Billings Index Backslides Slightly

After seven months of steady growth in the  demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) paused in September.  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 September ABI score was 49.1, down from a score of 53.7 in the previous month. This score reflects a slight decrease in design services provided by U.S. architecture firms (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.0, down from a reading of 62.5 the previous month, while the new design contracts index eased somewhat from 54.2 to 52.9.

“We’ve seen unexpectedly strong numbers in design activity for most of 2017, so the pause in September should be viewed in that context” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Project inquiries and new design contracts remain healthy, and the continued strength in most sectors and regions indicates stability industry-wide.”
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• Regional averages: Northeast (56.9), South (54.0), Midwest (50.4), West (48.8)

• Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (54.0), mixed practice (52.2), multi-family residential (51.0), institutional (51.0)
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 49.1 in September, down from 53.7 in August. 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 10 of the last 12 months, suggesting a further increase in CRE investment in 2017 and into 2018.