According to the American Institute of Architects, 2018 started on a strong note for architecture firms, as the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) saw its highest January score since 2007.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the January 2018 ABI score was 54.7, up from a score of 52.8 in the previous month. This score reflects an increase in design services provided by U.S. architecture firms (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 61.1, down from a reading of 62.0 the previous month, while the new design contracts index increased slightly from 53.4 to 53.9.
"Healthy conditions continue across all sectors and regions except the Northeast, where firm billings softened for the second consecutive month," said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. "With strong billings and healthy growth in new projects to start the year, firms remain generally optimistic about business conditions for the next several months."
Key January 2018 ABI highlights:
Regional averages: West (56.2), South (55.3), Midwest (54.8), Northeast (47.3)
Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (56.0), commercial / industrial (53.3), institutional (52.5), mixed practice (50.1)
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association's latest Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 16, 2018, mortgage applications in the U.S. decreased 6.6 percent from one week earlier.
U.S. builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes remained unchanged at a healthy 72 level in February 2018 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).
According to Realtors, an uptick in existing U.S. home sales in the final three months of 2017 pulled down housing inventory to an all-time low, while keeping home-price growth at its recent robust pace.
U.S. builder confidence in the single-family 55+ housing market remained strong in the fourth quarter of 2017 with a reading of 71, up 12 points from the previous quarter. This is the highest reading since the inception of the index in 2008.
Pending home sales were up slightly in December 2017, for the third consecutive month, according to the National Association of Realtors. In 2018, existing-home sales and price growth are forecast to moderate.