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AIA: "Demand for design services moderates but remains strong" in October

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by Calculated Risk on 11/17/2021 11:20:00 AM

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

From the AIA: Demand for design services moderates but remains strong

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

The ABI score for October was 54.3. While this score is down slightly from September’s score of 56.6, it still indicates very strong business conditions overall (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings from the prior month). During October, scoring for both the new project inquiries and design contracts expanded, posting scores of 62.9 and 58.0 respectively.

“Unlike the economy-wide payroll figures, architecture services employment has surpassed its pre-pandemic high,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Staffing continues to be a growing concern at architecture firms and may serve to limit their ability to take on new projects.”

o Regional averages: Midwest (61.9); South (58.2); West (53.4); Northeast (48.6)

o Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (58.7); commercial/industrial (57.4); multi-family residential (55.8); institutional (51.4)
emphasis added

Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 54.3 in October, down from 56.6 in September. 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 was below 50 for eleven consecutive months, but has been solidly positive for the last nine 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 this suggests a pickup in CRE investment in 2022.

Housing Starts Decreased to 1.520 Million Annual Rate in October

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