Revival in housing to lift trades

TAMLYN STEWART
Last updated 07:58 18/07/2012

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Builders, plumbers, electricians and gas-fitters expect a record boost from the housing market's revival, the latest quarterly ANZ Business Micro Scope survey of small businesses shows.

The construction sector was the most confident of those surveyed. Home-building expectations were at their highest since relevant data was first collected in December 1999.

Low interest rates were driving the housing market's revival, ANZ managing director business banking Fred Ohlsson said. "Builders, plumbers and electricians are gearing up as historically low mortgage rates breathe new life into the property market.

"Firms see building activity lifting nationwide, as new homes are built or owners extend or renovate what they have amid renewed sales activity."

Building intentions rose sharply over the three months to June for both residential building (net 39 per cent, up from 32 per cent in the previous quarter), and commercial building (23 per cent, up from 19 per cent).

Low interest rates and demand for housing in Christchurch and Auckland was driving most of the new building activity, Registered Master Builders' Federation of New Zealand chief executive Warwick Quinn said. The organisation detected more optimism among members, compared with last year.

Building activity had firmed in last year's final quarter, and that was continuing.

New home building for the year was about the 15,000 to 16,000 mark, compared to 13,500 for last year, although that had been the lowest in decades.

There was a lot of talk about Christchurch's rebuilding and Auckland's housing market. With interest rates expected to be lower long-term, firms were reporting more enquiries about building from potential customers, Quinn said.

"People have started to talk and show greater signs of interest in building. But to get them across the line is still hard."

Around the rest of the nation, a feeling existed that there might need to be "a short catch up", in terms of new homes being built, but nothing significant, Quinn said.

"The light will go on in Christchurch and it will be a step change because of the rebuilding, it will be a hive of activity." The organisation expected the rebuilding activity to kick-start in the second half of this year, Quinn said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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