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HIA: House approvals still cool in February

By Tim Neary
03 April 2019 | 9 minute read
australia aerial view reb

Building approvals for detached houses declined again in February, consistent with the trend of the past year, according to the HIA.

HIA chief economist Tim Reardon said that the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its monthly building approvals data today for Australia and the states and territories.

“Detached house approvals fell by 3.7 per cent for the month to be 11.1 per cent lower than the same three-month period last year,” he said.

“This is consistent with our expectation that this downturn will be sharp and shallow, with detached building activity remaining above the long-term average at the bottom of this downturn.”

He said that multi-unit approvals moved the other way.

“In contrast, multi-unit approvals unexpectedly jumped by 62.4 per cent in the month, against a backdrop of very low volumes of approvals in the second half of 2018. This bounce was due to a 134.1 per cent increase in multi-unit approvals in Victoria. NSW also experienced an exceptional bounce back for multi-unit approvals of 69.5 per cent.

“Despite the surge in multi-unit approvals, they remain 32.9 per cent lower than the same three-month period last year. There remains a significant volume of multi-unit construction in the pipeline this year.”

Mr Reardon said that it is likely the downturn will remain modest.

“The market cooled in the second half of 2018 on the back of the credit squeeze as dwelling prices corrected, adversely impacting market confidence. These results are an encouraging sign that this downturn will remain modest relative to historical comparisons.”

Gains in seasonally adjusted dwelling approvals in February 2019 were led by Victoria (+37.3 per cent) and NSW (+25.2 per cent), followed by SA (+6.8 per cent) and Queensland (+3.4 per cent).

All other states declined: WA (-10.9 per cent) and Tasmania (-13.6 per cent). Trend data in the ACT (-6.3 per cent) and the NT (-6.5 per cent) also showed declines.

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