US residential architecture billings rose in Q4-AIA

* Q4 residential billings rose to 32 from 20 yr on yr

* Q4 residential billings dropped to 32 from 38 in Q3

* Q4 new-project inquiries fell to 45 from 46 in Q3

NEW YORK, March 9 (BestGrowthStock) – A leading indicator of U.S.
residential construction spending rose in the fourth quarter
from a year earlier, but business conditions remained weak as
the housing downturn lingers, an architects’ trade group said
on Tuesday.

The Home Design Survey Index of residential billings was up
12 points year over year to 32 in the fourth quarter of 2009,
according to the American Institute of Architects.

A score below 50 indicates a contraction in demand.

But the index slumped from the third quarter of 2009, when
it hit 38. A measure of inquiries for new projects was 45 in
the fourth quarter, down a point from the third quarter.

“Residential architects continue to report declining
business conditions, indicating that the housing market is not
yet entering a full recovery phase,” the AIA said in a
statement.

After a federal tax credit fueled a surge in demand, the
housing market recovery has stuttered recently. In January,
pending sales of existing homes fell 7.6 percent to the lowest
level since May 2009, while new-home sales fell 11.2 percent.

In this uncertain environment, homeowners can not be
certain their homes will appreciate in value, which has made
them more restrained in their spending on kitchens and
bathrooms, the AIA said.

Instead of larger kitchens and more bathrooms, homeowners
are placing a priority on products and features that promote
energy efficiency.

“Since kitchens remain the nerve center of the home, doing
more with less space is a key consideration,” AIA chief
economist Kermit Baker said. Architects are aiming to integrate
kitchens with family space, including areas devoted to
recycling and spaces devoted to recharging laptops and cell
phones.
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(Reporting by Helen Chernikoff; Editing by Steve
Orlofsky)

US residential architecture billings rose in Q4-AIA