Building approvals in recovery mode

New home building began recovering in February following a decline in January, according to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The figures showed that total new dwelling approvals saw an increase of 3.1 per cent in February 2016, after dropping 7.5 per cent in January. Multi-unit approvals saw the biggest growth – up 7.7 per cent – while detached house approvals declined by 1.0 per cent.

Commenting on the data, Housing Industry Association senior economist Shane Garrett said the monthly lift in approvals is welcome, but it seems increasingly likely that approvals peaked late last year and that the volume of new home building activity is set to ease as 2016 progresses.

“Our latest forecasts indicate that the about 200,000 new dwelling starts will take place during 2016 – a reduction of 9.2 per cent from last year,” he said.

“This would still represent a very high level of output by historical standards; however, the risk remains that new home building output will fall below the levels required to meet long-term demand.

“The onus remains on policy makers to tackle this problem and confront issues like planning delays, land supply shortfalls and heavily inefficient taxes like conveyance stamp duty.”

To compare the states, Tasmania saw the biggest growth in new approvals during February, with 24.5 per cent.

NSW was next best with an increase of 14.3 per cent, followed by Queensland (9.5 per cent).

Conversely, Victoria experienced the biggest decline in approvals – down 12.8 per cent, while South Australia’s approvals dropped 10.9 per cent and Western Australia’s fell 7.6 per cent.

[Related: Falling home sales point to property downturn]

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