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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

AIA: "Architecture Billings Index Reports Sluggish Conditions to Start 2024"; Multi-family Billings Decline for 18th Consecutive Month

by Calculated Risk on 2/21/2024 10:49:00 AM

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

From the AIA: AIA/Deltek Architecture Billings Index Reports Sluggish Conditions to Start 2024

Architecture firm billings remained soft entering into 2024, with an AIA/Deltek Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score of 46.2 in January. Any score below 50.0 indicates decreasing business conditions.

This now marks the lengthiest period of declining billings since 2010, although it is reassuring that the pace of this decline is less rapid and the broader economy showed improvement in January,” said Kermit Baker, PhD, AIA Chief Economist. "Firms are seeing growth with inquiries into new projects and value of newly signed design contracts is holding steady, showing potential signs of interest from clients in new projects.”

Business conditions remained weak at firms in all regions of the country except the Midwest, where modest growth was seen in three of the last four months. Firms with a multifamily residential specialization continue to report the softest business conditions of all specializations.
emphasis added
• Regional averages: Northeast (43.6); Midwest (50.9); South (45.2); West (46.6)

• Sector index breakdown: commercial/industrial (47.0); institutional (48.5); mixed practice (firms that do not have at least half of their billings in any one other category) (42.9); multifamily residential (44.6)

AIA Architecture Billing Index Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 46.2 in January, down from 46.5 in December.  Anything below 50 indicates a decrease 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.

This index usually leads CRE investment by 9 to 12 months, so this index suggests a slowdown in CRE investment in 2024.

Note that multi-family billing turned down in August 2022 and has been negative for eighteen consecutive months (with revisions).   This suggests we will see a further weakness in multi-family starts.