Residential building consents still buoyant

Last updated 12:21 30/07/2013

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Building consents for houses and flats slipped 4 per cent in June, but for the three months to the end of June, consents were still at a five-year high.

Statistics NZ figures out today show that 1487 new houses, including apartments, were consented in June.

Auckland and Canterbury consented just more than half of the national total, at 55 per cent. Auckland consents were high in May, but slipped back in June.

Nationally, the seasonally adjusted number of new houses, including apartments, fell 4 per cent in the June month.

Excluding apartments, consents were down 4.5 per cent in June.

The dip in June followed especially strong gains in April and a slight gain in May.

While there was a drop in consents in June, ANZ Bank economists said the trend in home consents was "clearly upwards", given the five-year high for the June quarter.

June quarter consents were up 16 per cent, but still remained 17 per cent below historical averages, as a proportion of the housing stock, ANZ said.

Building work was picking up in Auckland, but remained below levels it needed to be to take the heat out of pressures on existing capacity "let alone meet future needs", ANZ said

Residential construction costs a square metre were up 6.7 per cent in the June quarter compared with a year ago. ANZ said that was a clear signal of the resource demands in the building sector, but the Reserve Bank would be hoping that did not filter through into wider inflation, forcing the central bank to lift interest rates faster.

Canterbury earthquake-related building consents were valued at $47 million in June, and included 53 new houses. For the June quarter, consents totalled $155m, including 166 new houses in Canterbury.

For the three months to the end of June, consents were up 16 per cent, seasonally adjusted, to 5213 new houses, including apartments. That was the most since the middle of 2008.

"The trend for the number of new houses consented has been rising for the last two years and is now similar to the level five years ago," Statistics NZ industry and labour statistics manager Blair Cardno said.

The total value of all building work consented in the June quarter was $2.9 billion. Home building consents were worth $1.9b, while planned non-residential work came to $1b.

The quarterly trend for the total value of building consents is at its second-highest ever level. The series peaked in the June 2007 quarter.

"The quarterly trend for the value of non-residential building work has been increasing for a year and is now at its highest level since September 2009," Cardno said.

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"It's important to bear in mind these trends don't take inflation into account," he said.

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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