With the improved economy, new homes are getting bigger again.The average size of newly built single-family homes increased during the first quarter of this year, according to the National Association of Home Builders.Using first-quarter census numbers on home starts and completions, the average single-family house increased from 2,656 square feet to 2,736 square feet, and the median rose from 2,465 square feet to 2,483 square feet.The recent rise in single-family home sizes is consistent with the historical pattern coming out of recessions, the association said.“Home sizes fall into the recession as some homebuyers cut back, and then sizes rise as high-end homebuyers, who face fewer credit constraints, return to the housing market in relatively greater proportions,” it said.Architecture index signals slowdownThe Architecture Billings Index, a leading indicator of construction activity, has fallen back into negative territory for the last two months, according to the American Institute of Architects.The index reflects the approximate 9- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending.The March index was 49.6, up slightly from 48.8 in February. The score reflects a decrease in design activity.By region, the index in the South was 57.5; West, 48.9; Midwest, 47; and Northeast, 42.9.“Despite an easing in demand for architecture services over the last couple of months, there is a pervading sense of optimism that business conditions are poised to improve as the year moves on,” said the institute’s chief economist, Kermit Baker.U.S. cement consumption on the riseArchitects nationwide may think construction is slowing, but the folks who watch cement consumption don’t.The Portland Cement Association, which represents U.S. cement manufacturing companies, forecast steady growth in construction and cement consumption for the next five years.The association forecasts a 7.9 percent increase in cement consumption this year, almost double the 4.5 percent increase in 2013. The industry expects double-digit growth of 10 percent in 2015 and 2016.“There is considerable evidence that the economy’s growth path has softened during the past several months,” said Edward Sullivan, the association’s chief economist and group vice president. “But we believe that the underlying economic fundamentals are stronger than the data suggest.”Through the first quarter, cement consumption increased 4.5 percent over the first quarter of 2013, the group said.Transactions 4809 Century Drive, Forest HillJ. Wales Enterprises has bought a 27,208-square-foot building. Michael Newsome of NAI Robert Lynn represented the buyer. The building was sold by Compass Bank, according to deed records. 4609 Bryant Irvin Road, Fort WorthTarrant County Farm Bureau has leased 1,500 square feet in Cityview Centre Shopping Center from RPI Bryant Irvin Ltd. Theron Bryant and Casey Tounget of Coldwell Banker Commercial Alliance DFW represented the tenant. Gretchen Frankenthal of the Weitzman Group represented the landlord. 3430 Hilldale Road, Fort WorthB2B Packaging, a national industrial packaging firm, has leased 2,200 square feet for a new Fort Worth office. Chris Stewart of Coldwell Banker Commercial Searcy Vasseur Group represented the landlord, Hilldale Investors Ltd. 1715-21 W. Berry St., Fort WorthDu Brolis Properties has bought a 7,300-square-foot building from Jones Partnership and plans to remodel it for the company’s new offices. Colour Basis and Atlas Financing are also tenants in the building. Chris Stewart of Coldwell Banker Commercial Searcy Vasseur Group represented the seller. Holly Roberts withe Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage represented the buyer.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST