Residential building activity in New Zealand over the past 12 months has been running at levels not seen since the 1970s, according to Statistics New Zealand.
The latest figures from Stats NZ, for November 2019, show that in the 12 months to the end of November there were 37,010 new dwelling units consented.
That's a 45-year high.
There were 37,919 new homes consented in the year ended September 1974, while the overall record is still 40,025 in the February 1974 year.
But while the activity is currently continuing at strong levels, the latest figures do suggest activity could be close to, if not at peak levels.
For the November month there were 3204 new dwelling units consented around the country.
That's up just 2.7% on the 3120 consented for the same month in 2018.
However, ASB senior economist Mark Smith pointed out that the housing market is strengthening "and we expect house price growth to pick up over the year ahead".
"Higher house prices typically boost demand for new builds and we expect dwelling construction to remain elevated at high levels over the year ahead," he said.
"However, we are wary that construction costs look to be accelerating - up 7.7% [year on year] according to the consent data - which could dampen future construction activity. The fall in pricing intentions for the building sector signalled by today’s Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion (QSBO) is especially welcome."
The 3204 new dwellings consented nationwide in November 2019 comprised of:
- 1,980 stand-alone houses
- 722 townhouses, flats, and units
- 291 apartments
- 211 retirement village units.
And if we look at the largest city Auckland (and the city purportedly with much the biggest housing shortage problem), the number consented in November actually fell compared with the same month a year prior, to 1120, from 1172.
However, the monthly figures, particularly for Auckland, are notoriously volatile.
For the 12 months to November 2019 the number of consented new dwellings in the Auckland region was 14,866, which was up 16% on the figure recorded for the 12 months to November 2018.
Going back to the national picture, Stats NZ says the number of new homes has been generally increasing since late 2011, coming off lows in 2009 and 2011 when fewer than 14,000 new homes were consented annually.
Nationally, 13% more new homes were consented in the November 2019 year compared with a year ago, reaching, as said earlier, 14,866 in Auckland, 4,176 in Waikato, and 5,310 in Canterbury.
Canterbury consented 14% more new homes than in the previous November year. Although this level is below the 2014 peak, it is still higher than the level before earthquake rebuild activities.
Wellington region consented 3,036 new homes in the latest year, the highest annual number since over 4,000 new homes were consented in the mid-1970s.
Stats NZ says across the 16 New Zealand regions, only three (Northland, Nelson, and Marlborough) consented slightly fewer new homes in the November 2019 year than in the previous year.
In the year ended November 2019, non-residential building consents totalled $7.4 billion, up 4.9% from the November 2018 year. This series can be influenced by price changes – non-residential construction prices (as measured by the capital goods price index) were up 5.1 percent in the September 2019 year.
In the November 2019 year, the non-residential building types with the highest values were:
- education buildings – $1.0 billion (down 1.5%)
- shops, restaurants, and bars – $1.0 billion (down 5.4%)
- offices, administration, and public transport buildings – $981 million (up 6.3%).
See the interactive chart below for the full regional trends.