The number of dwelling approvals rose in February after falling for two months, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The ABS Building Approvals found that approvals between January and February increased by 3.1 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms.
Housing Industry Association (HIA) economist Geordan Murray said it was pleasing to see a material improvement in February.
“We have seen indicators of consumer sentiment improve over recent months and we may well be seeing an early sign that this is flowing through to activity on the ground," he said.
“A 4.2 per cent increase in approvals for detached houses was the main driver of this result, although approvals for multi-unit dwellings also posted a 1.6 per cent increase during February.”
Mr Murray explained that much of the increase in the detached dwelling segment at a national level could be attributed to an eight per cent increase in detached dwelling approvals in NSW.
“There were 1,601 detached homes approved in the state in February making it one of only three months since 2005 when detached dwelling approvals have broken through the 1,600 mark,” he said.
“The other two occurred during the financial crisis when federal stimulus policies were in full effect.”
According to the ABS, the total of seasonally adjusted dwelling approvals in February increased in South Australia (23.0 per cent), Western Australia (5.3 per cent), Queensland (3.8 per cent) and Victoria (0.3 per cent) but decreased in New South Wales (-7.7 per cent) and Tasmania (-5.8 per cent).
In trend terms, building approvals in February increased by 3.1 per cent in the Australian Capital Territory and fell by 10.5 per cent in the Northern Territory.
HIA executive director of NT Robert Harding said while overall levels were still healthy, it was not encouraging that approvals were heading in the wrong direction given the backdrop of the Territory’s accelerating economic and population growth.
“Not only do we need to see a turnaround in this recent trend, but this also needs to be sustained such that we see new home building activity at levels commensurate to the needs of the rapidly growing NT population,” he said.