New Zealand's residential building consents crept up in September, snapping declines in the previous two months, as a spurt in Wellington apartment permits offset a decline in new house permits.
Seasonally adjusted dwelling consents increased 0.2 percent to 2,618 in September, turning around a 1.5 percent decline in August, Statistics New Zealand said. Permits for new houses fell 2.5 percent to 1,813, having gained 4.1 percent a month earlier. The monthly figures were bolstered by a jump in Wellington permits, which included 93 units in the Wellington City Council-owned Arlington Apartments.
On an annual basis, residential consents rose 14 percent to 29,935, including a 15 percent gain in new housing permits to 21,299.
Westpac Banking Corp industry economist David Norman said the residential consents were "a little weaker than we had forecast," though they came "on the heels of a very strong June result, and two consecutive falls in July and August," with the trend will pointing upwards.
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 9,960 permits were signed off for Auckland in the year ended Sept. 30, accelerating from the 9,851 annual pace in August, though still less than the 13,000 needed to keep up with an expanding population. In August, 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.
Westpac's Norman said it was too early for the plan to drive up new permits, and that it will be several months "before parts of the city where greater intensification can now occur have more consents approved, appeals notwithstanding."
The value of non-residential permits fell 18 percent to $509 million September from the same month a year earlier, smaller than the 42 percent decline in floor area to 202,000 square metres. On an annual basis, the value of non-residential work permits rose 6.8 percent to $6.05 billion, while the floor area shrank 16 percent to 2.83 million square metres.