Declining trend in building consents

Building consents have fallen nationwide – except for in Auckland.

Friday, May 29th 2015, 3:26PM

by Miriam Bell

The latest Statistics NZ data shows that 2,112 new dwellings were consented in April, which is up 1.4% from April last year.

But, once seasonally adjusted, the number of consents fell 1.7% in April, following a 10% rise in March.

Further, when it comes to houses, the seasonally adjusted number of consents fell 2.7% in April, following a 7.2% rise in March.

Statistics NZ business indicators manager Neil Kelly said the overall dwelling consent trend is easing, while the house consent trend has now been decreasing for 13 months.

Despite this, both trends were well up on the low points they hit in March 2011, he said.

The Auckland region led the way with 912 new dwelling consents, which was an increase of 215 from March.

It is the third month in a row that Auckland has recorded a rise in consents, which could bode well for the city’s ongoing supply issue.

In a sign of the times, consents were issued for 467 apartments in April – which is a seven-year high.

Almost all of these apartments will be built in Auckland, Kelly said.

“Consented apartment numbers often fluctuate, but have returned to historical average levels in the last couple of years, following four low years.”

Meanwhile, nine other regions consented fewer new dwellings in April 2015 than in April 2014.

Notably, Canterbury issued 127 fewer consents than in March, which left with a 22-month low of 427.

Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon said the data showed that the centre of activity in housing construction has clearly shifted.

“The number of consents in Auckland rose to its highest in nearly ten years, with multiples (apartments and townhouses) accounting for almost half of the total.

“In contrast, the pace of new consents continued to slow in Canterbury, with the residential side of the quake rebuild now well advanced.”

The total number of dwelling consents has flattened out in the last year, and remains below the monthly peak reached last November, Gordon said.

“This is consistent with our view that the building industry is facing capacity constraints at the national level.”

*Consents for all buildings totalled $1.2 billion in April, with $757 million for residential buildings and $419 million for non-residential buildings.

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