Wednesday, September 19, 2012

AIA: Architecture Billings Index shows slight expansion in August

by Calculated Risk on 9/19/2012 02:54:00 PM

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

From AIA: Architecture Billings Index Inches Back into Positive Territory

On the heels of a nearly three-point increase, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) climbed into positive terrain for the first time in five months. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the August ABI score was 50.2, up from the mark of 48.7 in July. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 57.2, up from mark of 56.3 the previous month.

“Until the economy is on firmer ground, there aren’t likely to be strong increases in demand for design services,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “In the meantime, we can expect to see design activity alternate between modest growth and modest decline.”
AIA Architecture Billing Index Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 50.2 in August, up from 48.7 in July. 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 suggests further weakness in CRE investment later this year and into next year (it will be some time before investment in offices and malls increases).

Earlier:
Housing Starts increased to 750 thousand in August
Existing Home Sales in August: 4.82 million SAAR, 6.1 months of supply
Existing Home Sales: Inventory and NSA Sales Graph
Existing Home Sales graphs