Wednesday, April 18, 2018

AIA: "Architecture billings remain positive in March"

by Bill McBride on 4/18/2018 10:31:00 AM

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

From the AIA: Architecture billings remain positive in March

he American Institute of Architects (AIA) today reported that architecture firm billings rose for the sixth consecutive month in March, although the pace of growth slowed modestly from February.

Overall, the AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score for March was 51.0 (any score over 50 indicates billings growth), which still reflects a healthy business environment. While business conditions softened somewhat at firms located in the Northeast region, billings remained strong at firms located in the South and West regions.

“New project activity coming into architecture firms continues to grow at a solid pace. As a result, project backlogs—in excess of six months at present— are at their highest post-recession level,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Business remains strong in the South and West, and firms with a residential specialization continue to set the pace.”
...
• Regional averages: West (53.4), Midwest (50.7), South (53.2), Northeast (49.0)

• Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (53.4), institutional (49.7), commercial/industrial (53.1), mixed practice (51.1)
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 51.0 in March, down from 52.0 in February. 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 11 of the last 12 months, suggesting a further increase in CRE investment in 2018.