Southern region reports decline in billings for the first time since June 2012
According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), U.S. architecture firm billings growth softened in October 2018 but remained positive for the thirteenth consecutive month.
AIA's Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score for October was 50.4 compared to 51.1 in September. With continued strength in new project inquiries, billings are expected to remain steady into the coming months.
"The aftermath of this year's hurricanes and wildfires are the likely cause of the billings contraction we're seeing in the South and West regions," said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. "These natural disasters have clouded the health of design and construction activity, making it difficult to separate a temporary setback from a general slowdown in design activity."
Key ABI highlights for October include:
Regional averages: Midwest (57.8), Northeast (51.8), South (48.4), West (46.9)
Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (52.7), multi-family residential (52.3), institutional (52.0), commercial/industrial (48.9)
According to HUD, the U.S. national vacancy rate in the first quarter 2019 was 7.0 percent for rental housing and 1.4 percent for homeowner housing. The rental vacancy rate of 7.0 percent was virtually unchanged from the rate in the first quarter 2018.
According to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department, total housing starts fell 0.3 percent in March 2019 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.14 million units from a downwardly revised reading in February 2019.
According to Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, U.S. mortgage rates rose modestly this 2nd week of April 2019, with the 30-year fixed-rate averaging 4.12 percent. Rates moved up slightly this week while mortgage applications decreased following last week's jump in rates.
A total of 161,875 U.S. properties with a foreclosure filing during the first quarter of 2019, down 23 percent from the previous quarter and down 15 percent from a year ago to the lowest level since Q1 2008.
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