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AIA: "Demand for design services continues to increase" in September

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by Calculated Risk on 10/20/2021 11:22:00 AM

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

From the AIA: Demand for design services continues to increase

Architecture firms continue to report increasing demand for design services in September, according to a new report today from The American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score for September was 56.6, which is up from August’s score of 55.6. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings from the prior month. During September, scoring for both the new project inquiries and design contracts moderated slightly, but remained in positive territory, posting scores of 61.8 and 54.7 respectively.

“The ABI scores over the last eight months continue to be among the highest ever seen in the immediate post-recession periods that have been captured throughout the index’s history,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “However, it’s unlikely that revenue increases at architecture firms can sustain this pace. Given that growth in both new design contracts and project inquiries have moderated in recent months, we expect to see a similar path for the ABI.”

o Regional averages: Midwest (57.7); South (57.0); West (56.0); Northeast (51.5)

o Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (58.8); commercial/industrial (58.1); multi-family residential (56.1); institutional (53.5)
emphasis added

Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 56.6 in September, up from 55.6 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.

This index had been below 50 for eleven consecutive months, but has been solidly positive for the last eight months.

The eleven months of decline represented a significant decrease in design services, and suggests a decline in CRE investment through most of 2021 (This index usually leads CRE investment by 9 to 12 months), however we might see a pickup in CRE investment in Q4 2021 and in 2022.

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