Building permits basically unchanged in April
April building permits were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,760,000, +0.3% above the revised March rate of 1,755,000 and +60.9% above the April 2020 rate of 1,094,000. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, single‐family authorizations in April were at a rate of 1,149,000, -3.8% below the revised March figure of 1,194,000.
AIA’s news from architects is awfully good in April
Continuing what the American Institute of Architects called a “meteoric rebound,” the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) recorded its third consecutive month of positive billings, according to the latest report from the AIA. AIA’s ABI score for April rose to 57.9 points compared to 55.6 points in March (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). Neither score has been achieved since before the Great Recession. During April, new project inquiries and new design contracts reached record highs with scores of 70.8 points and 61.7 points respectively.
“This recent acceleration in the demand for design services demonstrates that both consumers and businesses are feeling much more confident about the economic outlook,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, in the press release. “The pent-up demand for new and retrofitted facilities is keeping architecture firms in all regions and building sectors busy.”
Builder confidence stays steady in May
The latest National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) shows that builder confidence in the market for single-family homes is 83 points in May, unchanged from April, despite growing concerns over the price and availability of most building materials, including lumber.
The Washington, DC-based NAHB said in a post, “Builder confidence in the market remains strong due to a lack of resale inventory, low mortgage interest rates, and a growing demographic of prospective home buyers. However, first-time and first-generation home buyers are particularly at risk for losing a purchase due to cost hikes associated with increasingly scarce material availability.
"In recent months, residential construction material costs were up +12% year-over-year, and our surveys suggest those costs are rising further."