Apartment trend drives booming housing approvals

Australia may build a record number of homes this financial year after setting its third monthly approvals record in five months.

There were 19,419 housing approvals in March, 0.7 per cent higher than the previous record figure of 19,282 set in January.

It was also 6.4 per cent higher than the record before that, which was the 18,245 approvals for November.

The scale of the growth in housing approvals can be seen in a year-on-year comparison: the March 2015 result was 23.6 per cent bigger than the March 2014 result.

The rise was driven mainly by private sector unit approvals, which jumped 59.2 per cent to 9,710. Private sector house approvals rose 1.6 per cent to 9,551.

Master Builders Australia chief economist Peter Jones said Australia was now on track to record 220,000 approvals in 2014/2015, which would equate to a monthly average of 18,333 approvals.

“The rise in building approvals for March confirms that the positive outlook for the housing market will continue amid signs of growth in detached houses, which have flat-lined for 12 months lagging behind high-rise apartments,” Mr Jones said.

Housing Industry Association senior economist Shane Garrett said home building is providing a valuable boost to Australia’s sluggish economy.

“New home building continues to benefit from the exceptionally low level of interest rates, as well as strong population growth over recent years in the key home buyer age group,” Mr Garrett said.

“While growth in multi-unit approvals has been very strong, the detached house side of the market has been pretty flat over the past year.

“It is important that constraints around planning and land supply are tackled in order to ensure detached house building activity delivers on its full potential.”

[Related: New home starts reach record level in 2014]

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