Urban living is proving popular in Wellington, with the number of new apartments given resource consent rising.
According to latest Statistics New Zealand data, 238 new apartments were consented in the capital during 2012, up from only 187 the year before.
Several major apartment buildings are under construction in the city such as at Clyde Quay Wharf, the Elevate apartments in Taranaki St and One Market Lane.
Willis Bond managing director Mark McGuinness said while the Wellington apartment market was not booming, it appeared solid.
At its One Market Lane apartment block, where construction started on January 6, 33 out of the 42 apartments had been sold off the plans. Clyde Quay Wharf had only 10 apartments left for sale out of 86 in total, with building work on its piles almost finished.
"Downturn or not, people still need somewhere to live, good value that is of good quality and that's hopefully what we're providing. Our sales of apartments have been very pleasing this year and last year. Buyers are extremely discerning."
Tommy's real estate salesman Pierre Limn had been marketing the Elevate apartments, due for completion in March 2014.
In two months, 35 out of the 80 apartments in the building had been sold off the plans. Most of the buyers were "empty nester" couples downsizing after adult children left the family home, first- home buyers and single professional women.
"New purpose-built apartments are the majority we're selling and I think that relates to people's understanding of earthquake strengthening of older buildings. Newer buildings appeal because a lot of older apartments need to be strengthened."
Nationwide, the number of new dwellings approved rose almost a quarter during 2012. The latest Statistics NZ figures showed that last year 16,929 residential buildings got resource consent, up 24 per cent from 2011.
The consents, the most seen in one year since 2008, were valued at $6.2 billion, up $1.25b year on year.
Canterbury consents rose 69 per cent with 4037 new dwellings approved in 2012. Since September 2010, there have been more than 3500 earthquake-related consents in Canterbury, totalling $793m.
Auckland had the most consents issued for one region, with 4582 homes achieving approval last year.
Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon said building consents were back at pre-recession levels, driven entirely by the Canterbury region.
The rest of the country was flat.
"Overall, quake-related building work to date appears to be tracking in line with our forecasts in total, though the mix has been slightly different - a slower than expected lift in residential work, but faster than expected for non- residential work."
ASB Institutional economist Christina Leung said December's consents were boosted by a lift in apartments, after a drop in November.
The overall national trend was one of gradual recovery.
"House-building demand continues to recover, underpinned by rebuilding in Canterbury and increased demand in Auckland in light of the more acute housing market pressures in these regions.
"We expect these pressures will encourage further house-building demand over the coming year."
Wellington region building consents:
Calendar 2012: 1236 dwellings given building consent Combined value: $367 million
Apartments: 238 apartments granted consent, up from 187 in 2011
115 dwelling consents, down from 188 in December 2011
Combined value: $30m, down from $62m in December 2011
- The Dominion Post
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