Building a popular option
House construction is climbing and land developers are rushing sections to the market to meet demand, writes LIZ McDONALD.
It has been a long time coming but house construction is picking up in the greater Christchurch area.
The number of new home consents issued by local councils has climbed to its highest level for several years, mostly due to building work in the Waimakariri and Selwyn districts, and Canterbury now has the most new home construction of any region in the country.
During August the three councils authorised 331 new homes worth a total of $123 million, the most for five years, according to Statistics New Zealand. Home construction had been at a low point even before the earthquakes, with a downturn in the sales of existing homes and high construction costs combining to dampen enthusiasm for building.
In the past few months subdivisions in Canterbury towns near Christchurch have reported high demand for land. Red zoners are fanning out and other homeowners are taking the opportunity to sell to red zoners and build new for themselves. Also, subdivisions are hearing from workers coming into the region for the rebuild who are keen to build rather than rent or buy.
Several Canterbury subdivisions, including the 1050-section Faringdon in Rolleston and the 1180-section Silverstream in Kaiapoi, are fast- tracking stages of sections to meet demand.
Real Estate Institute figures show 514 sections were sold in Canterbury-Westland the six months to the end of August, up from 390 in the previous six months. The median price paid for a section in August was $178,500.
Insurance is still a stumbling block for many intending home builders, but the past few weeks have seen banks take action in an attempt to boost mortgage sales.
ANZ Bank is now offering mortgage holders fixed-sum insurance through insurance company Vero, while Westpac has launched what it calls its New Build Pac policy through insurer Lumley. New Zealand's biggest insurer, IAG, has also loosened its hard line on new policies from this week.
The Statistics New Zealand figures show August consents for new homes in Waimakariri totalled 117, up from 69 in August last year and the second highest monthly number on record.
In Selwyn, the total of 79 was more than triple the 27 given out a year ago. The number of new homes for Ashburton was also up, rising from 15 to 31.
Christchurch had 135 consents issued, down slightly from both the previous month and from August last year.
A total of $24 million of quake- related consents were given out for rebuilding 52 homes in the region as well as repairs. The value of the consents was the highest yet in a month.