Building cooling in 'hot' areas

HAMISH MCNICOL
Last updated 05:00 01/10/2013

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The number of houses being built is beginning to slow after two years of growth, concerningly so in the hottest property markets of Auckland and Canterbury, economists warn.

Consents for building work worth a total of $1.02 billion were issued in August, as consents for homes and apartments increased 1.4 per cent on the previous month.

A total of 1760 dwelling consents, including 127 apartments and 10 retirement village units, were issued.

But the trend for new housing consents is still 30 per cent below its peak in September 2003, even if August's trend was 64 per cent higher than in March 2011.

Statistics NZ industry and labour statistics manager Tehseen Islam said the number of consents issued had not changed much since a 13 per cent rise in April this year.

"Following a sustained rise from 2011 to 2013, the trend for new houses seems to have levelled off."

ASB said that, concerningly, the slowing in residential building demand was occurring in Canterbury and Auckland, where housing supply constraints are most acute.

It estimated a seasonally adjusted 7.8 per cent fall in dwelling consents in Auckland and a 1.6 per cent drop in Canterbury, but said the long-term trend remained one of slowing improvement.

"It is likely the supply and demand imbalance in Auckland will take many years to be resolved, and the turnaround in net migration inflows is likely to put further pressure on housing stock."

Westpac said the main drag on August's figures was a drop in Auckland consents, which it estimated to be down 11 per cent from July.

It said month-to-month figures could be volatile, however, and similar declines had been seen within Auckland during the region's upward trend of the past two years. "The number of consents appears to be taking a great deal of time to reach the levels needed to meet demand."

New housing and apartment consents in Auckland and Christchurch represented 55 per cent of the national total. Earthquake-related building consents in Canterbury were valued at $59 million in August, including 58 new houses.

Since September 2010, $1.2b of earthquake-related building consents has been issued.

Westpac said consents in Christchurch were flat but the number of consents for each of the past three months was above the peak of last decade's boom. This provided more evidence that the post-quake rebuild was moving into a higher gear.

Wellington consents dropped by 56 to 113 in August, but were eight more than in August last year.

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- BusinessDay

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