October building consents dive

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 14:43 30/11/2012

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New home construction has fallen in Christchurch and Canterbury at a time when a shortage of houses is pushing up prices and rents.

The number of building consents issued for new homes in October was the lowest since June, reversing a trend of a pickup in construction on the back of an easier insurance market.

Statistics New Zealand figures show consent for 333 new houses and units from local councils in October, down from almost 400 in both September and August.

Christchurch economist Robin Clements said affordability was still a problem, and new homes were too expensive.

Trimming compliance and consenting costs and freeing up more land for new homes would help, Clements said.

''People are getting less for their payout. If you could take a slice off all those costs that make up the total cost of building, you could take $100,000 off the price of a new house.''

''They say there's enough land but some of those new sections won't have titles until next year. That's not particularly useful if you are sitting wondering where you can go.''

Statistics NZ said last month the cost of house building had increased 10 per cent in the past year, and industry members forecast another 10 per cent rise was on the cards.

Clements also said consent delays at some councils could be slowing home building.

He hoped the drop-off in numbers would be temporary, and the overall trend would continue rising.

Of the 333 new homes approved in October, 121 were in Christchurch City and 212 in other Canterbury districts.

In total, there were 211 consents in the region in October 2011.

More than 7500 homes have been red-zoned in Christchurch, Kaiapoi and Brooklands, and thousands more must be rebuilt as they are too costly to repair.

The average value of a house in the city has reached almost $400,000 for the first time, Quotable Value says, 6 per cent more than a year ago, while values in Selwyn and Waimakariri have risen 12 per cent.

Real estate agents says listings are in short supply and competition among buyers is pushing up prices.

Christchurch rents have also been rising steadily and now average $344.

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- The Press

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