Building consents fall for second month

New Zealand residential building consents fell for a second month as more permits for new houses couldn't offset a dip in the more volatile intentions to construct apartments and retirement village units.

Seasonally adjusted dwelling consents fell 1 per cent to 2,636 in August, continuing from an 8.1 per cent drop a month earlier, Statistics New Zealand said. Permits for new houses rose 4.4 per cent to 1,872 in the month, turning around the 5.8 per cent fall a month earlier. On an annual basis, residential permits rose 14 per cent to 29,627, including a 16 per cent gain in new house consents to 21,188. The value of residential permits rose 24 per cent to an annual $10.26 billion.

"Consent values are the highest they've ever been," business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said. "However, in terms of the numbers we're still not building quite as many homes as we did around 2004, and are still well short of the building boom in the mid-1970s."

Record net migration is putting pressure on the nation's housing market where a shortage of supply is pushing up prices in Auckland, the country's largest city, making accommodation unaffordable for many.

Today's figures show new permits in Auckland rose 970 in August from 741 in the same month a year earlier, for an annual total of 9,851, less than the 13,000 needed to keep up with an expanding population. Last month Auckland Council signed off on the unitary plan allowing for more than 400,000 new residential houses to be built over the next three decades, though appeals are expected to keep new building intentions muted until there's more clarity for developers.

"The administrative burden associated with a resource consent has increased significantly both for developers and for council staff as a result of the appeals," Westpac Banking Corp economist David Norman said in a note. "These obstacles mean we are unlikely to see the sudden uptick in resource consents, and consequently building consents issued that it was hoped the unitary plan would deliver in short-order."

Otago dwelling consents jumped 85 per cent to 192 in August from a year earlier largely due to new developments planned in Queenstown, while Waitako permits were up 35 per cent to 314 and Bay of Plenty consents rose 53 per cent to 217. Canterbury consents fell 4.7 per cent to 568.

The value of non-residential permits dropped 20 per cent to $534 million, for an annual increase of 11 per cent to $6.16b. Across all construction, the value of building permits rose 8.2 per cent to $1.75b in August from a year earlier, and was up 17 per cent to $18.68b annually.

Read the full report here:

- BusinessDesk

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