2011 Predictions Wrong: Nonresidential Construction Lagging

Feb 16, 2011

Press Release: February 16, 2011 Economists are pointing to a halting recovery in the nonresidential construction sector, holding back on their earlier predictions of a recovery this year. The Zweig Letter, ZweigWhite’s weekly management journal, reported in its January 14 issue that economists who follow the design and construction industries now are saying that a recovery is not expected until 2012. According to at least one survey held by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the U.S. nonresidential construction activity will decline slightly this year, but is expected to recover in 2012, led by the hotel and retail sectors. The institute’s semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast projects nonresidential construction spending levels to drop by 2% this year, but an increase of 5%, adjusted for inflation, is expected by 2012. The projected decline marks a deteriorating outlook. A similar survey in July 2010 pointed to a 2011 recovery. “The key factors that have prevented an accelerated recovery include historically low lending rates for real estate projects, the lingering effects of general overbuilding and an unfavorable bond market that has hampered the ability for municipalities to get the requisite funding to build new schools and hospitals,” Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist, told The Zweig Letter. “Conditions should improve later this year and gain momentum as we move into 2012, particularly for hotel, retail, and office building projects.” However, economist Jim Haughey, director of research and analytics with Reed Construction Data, is a bit more optimist about a recovery in the sector. “Looking at the recent trends,” Haughey said in the Jan. 14 issue of The Zweig Letter, “nonresidential (construction) starts have picked up quite sharply from the falloff at the height of the financial problems last year.... The nonresidential construction pipeline is gradually being rebuilt. In recent credit trends, we’ve seen that investors have started buying bank real estate loans at deep discounts, and by deep, I mean as much as 50% or 60%, in some cases. This is providing the capital for a very small expansion in new project loans.” The AIA projects construction of industrial space to fall 11.8% this year, but rise slightly in areas like health care, church and recreational facilities. ABOUT ZWEIGWHITE Twice named to the Inc. 500 list of best firms, ZweigWhite is the nation’s leader in enhancing business performance for architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms. The ZweigWhite team consists of experts in strategy, mergers and acquisitions, business valuation, ownership transition, human resources management, finance, marketing, market research, project management and project delivery methods who collectively produce a comprehensive suite of products and services, including advisory, consulting, newsletters, industry reports, executive training, business conferences and more covering virtually every aspect of firm management. The firm is headquartered in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with additional offices in, Chicago, IL, Durham, NC, and Natick, MA. ZweigWhite is owned by investors Eli Global, BIA Digital Partners and MZ Ventures, Inc.,with management including Mark Zweig and Ed Friedrichs. For more information, visit www.zweigwhite.com or call (479) 582-5700. ###

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.