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Housing approvals fall to eight-year low

04 August 2020 Cameron Micallef
Housing approvals fall to eight-year low

The COVID-19 health pandemic has triggered the fourth consecutive decline in dwelling approvals, according to the latest government statistics.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has published its latest Building Approvals data, reporting a 4.9 per cent decline (seasonally adjusted) in the number of dwellings approved in June.

The monthly result was driven by a 5.7 per cent fall in detached housing approvals and a 5.3 per cent slide in unit approvals.


On a state-by-state basis, NSW recorded the sharpest decline (14.8 per cent), followed by Western Australia (11.7 per cent), Queensland (10.9 per cent), Tasmania (10.8 per cent), South Australia (4.6 per cent) and Victoria (0.2 per cent) also declined.

“The impact of COVID-19 was evident on dwelling approvals in June,” said Bill Becker, assistant director of construction statistics at the ABS. “Falls were recorded in all states, and across both detached and attached dwellings.”

However, the government has noted that the new stimulus package will help reverse this trend.

Luke Yeaman, the Treasury’s deputy secretary, macroeconomic group, said the HomeBuilder package has helped reverse a sharp slide in construction activity.    

“We did see over the last few months quite a significant increase in the number of people that have previously been in the process of purchasing a home or were in the contract phase and had then withdrawn,” he said.

“I think it was close to around 30 per cent, which was substantially higher than what we saw, even through the GFC.

“To the extent that this scheme locks people who were going to proceed but otherwise have pulled out or it brings forward activity from those [who] were thinking of purchasing in a year’s time to take advantage of the scheme, we would see that as a positive outcome for the economic outlook in the short term to maintain that construction pipeline and the jobs pipeline.”

Housing Industry Association (HIA) senior economist Geordan Murray reaffirms this adding that the stimulatory impact of the HomeBuilder package would not be reflected in the building approvals data until the back end of 2020.

But Mr Murray pointed to HIA research, which found that the HomeBuilder package helped spur an increase of almost 80 per cent in new home sales over the month of June following a record-low result in May.

“HIA anticipates building approvals data will continue to fall for a number of months, before HomeBuilder halts the decline,” he said.

“HIA’s New Home Sales Survey showed an immediate lift in sales during June and early signs suggest July was another strong month for sales.

“Progressing a building project to the point where the building plans are approved takes time. The lift in sales following the announcement of HomeBuilder will become evident in approvals data later in the year.”

Housing approvals fall to eight-year low
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