Note: This index is a leading indicator primarily for new Commercial Real Estate (CRE) investment.
Architecture firms reported a modest increase in March billings. This positive news was tempered by a slight decrease in new design contracts according to a new report released today from The American Institute of Architects (AIA). March was the first time since last September in which billings improved.
The billings score for March increased from 48.0 in February to 50.4 in March (any score above 50 indicates an increase in firm billings). However, firms reported that inquiries into new projects grew at a slower pace, while the value of new design contracts declined from 51.3 in February to 48.9 in March.
“In spite of the positive movement in architecture firm billings in March, core concerns remain., “said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Inflation still needs to ease further for interest rates to return to more normal levels, and the banking turmoil still threatens to hold back residential and commercial construction loans.”
• Regional averages: Midwest (51.4); Northeast (49.1); South (47.4); West (47.2)
• Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (firms that do not have at least half of their billings in any one other category) (53.9); institutional (48.8); commercial/industrial (49.7); multi-family residential (44.2)
Click on graph for larger image.
This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 50.4 in March, up from 48.0 in February. Anything above 50 indicates an increase 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 declined for five consecutive months and was slightly positive in March. This index usually leads CRE investment by 9 to 12 months, so this index suggests a slowdown in CRE investment later in 2023.