Residential building consents jump in November, partly as COVID catchup, partly encouraged by very strong demand for housing where supply is very constrained

Residential building consents jump in November, partly as COVID catchup, partly encouraged by very strong demand for housing where supply is very constrained
Image by Brett Jordan, from Unsplash

The annual number of new homes consented in the North Island was 29,310 in November 2020, the highest number since the regional series began in March 1991, Stats NZ said today.

Nationally, the number of new homes consented in the year to November 2020 was 38,624, up +4.2% from 2019. The national annual total is the highest since July 1974, when 38,904 new homes were consented.

“Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, and Taranaki had record levels of new homes consented in the November 2020 year. These consents are an intention to build, and most home construction is completed within a year or two after a consent is granted, though COVID-19 may have caused delays for some projects,” construction statistics manager Michael Heslop said.

November and May are typical peak months for residential consent.

This year, the peak is being driven by strong consents for townhouses and stand alone houses, with weak levels for apartments and retirement accommodation.

In Auckland City, consents are up +55% above the year-ago levels. The Unitary Plan seems to be doing its job, with both areas on the urban/rural boundaries being developed faster (with both Manuwera and the Henderson/Massey regions seeing massive increases), and more density in areas like central Waitematā, Ōrakei, and Maungakiekie-Tāmaki seeing very strong increases. Howick also features for growth.

For the full twelve months to November, 16,293 consents were issued in Auckland compared with 14,866 in the prior year. This is a +10% rise, despite the pandemic interruptions.

On the same basis, Hawke's Bay (+52%) and Taranaki (+25%) reported even stronger rises as a back-to-the-provinces trend emerges. Wellington's housing supply issue is set to continue with a -2% fall over the past year.

In the South Island, Christchurch housing consent levels rose +9% in the year to November with a strong finish.

Waikato, the Bay of Plenty, Otago and Southland joined Wellington with declining residential consent levels.

Tasman is the one region where consent levels are consistently high, and they reached 10 per 1000 residents in the year to November, a level they haven't exceeded for 17 years. Auckland has recovered from its long slumber reaching 9.5/1000 residents this year and its highest ever. Christchurch is a relatively high 9.0 on this basis. Most other regions are much lower however at about half this level or less and that helps set up a "low supply" situation that underpins high house prices - and declining affordability.

Building consents - residential

Select chart tabs »

The 'NZ total' chart will be drawn here.
#issued Nationally
The 'Northland' chart will be drawn here.
#issued in Northland
The 'Auckland' chart will be drawn here.
#issued in Auckland
The 'Waikato' chart will be drawn here.
#issued in the Waikato
The 'Bay of Plenty' chart will be drawn here.
#issued in the Bay of Plenty
The 'Gisborne' chart will be drawn here.
The 'Hawke's Bay' chart will be drawn here.
#issued in Hawkes Bay
The 'Taranaki' chart will be drawn here.
The 'Manawatu/Wanganui' chart will be drawn here.
The 'Wellington' chart will be drawn here.
#issued in Wellington
The 'Tasman' chart will be drawn here.
The 'Nelson' chart will be drawn here.
# Nelson
The 'Marlborough' chart will be drawn here.
The 'Westland' chart will be drawn here.
# Westand
The 'Canterbury' chart will be drawn here.
#issued in Canterbury
The 'Otago' chart will be drawn here.
# Otago
The 'Southland' chart will be drawn here.
# Southland

Building consents - type

Select chart tabs »

The 'All Dwelling Types' chart will be drawn here.
The 'Apartments' chart will be drawn here.
The 'Houses' chart will be drawn here.
The 'Retirement Units' chart will be drawn here.
The 'Townhouses' chart will be drawn here.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


Yaay... more supply as per Lab leader sole understanding of housing issue, just simply a matter of 'supply' and demand. Ignore any distortions that occur, it's a matter of supply. Oh yea.. and the world is just B & W too.
Skyrocketing affordability is never an issue my guess, so keep it up build more with exorbitant out of reach prices, it should be started at 1M min.

Yeap. $1M should be the minimum each. With interest rates so low, if anyone couldn't qualify for a loan, they should rent instead. Good way to keep low ballers out of the game- helps keep out those poor quality neighbours too.

Awesome, obviously in response to demand due to our housing shortage . I'm sure these are much needed houses, not developers having a knee jerk reaction to rising house prices where demand was driven by people looking places to dump cash rather than people looking for places to live.

In my lifetime, I don't expect to see any appreciable fall in house prices.

Increases in building consents issued is a good sign - but far more than that is needed to cope with a housing crisis of the magnitude that has developed (over many years) in New Zealand.......

The reality is that many people (including leading politicians and senior government officials) are very comfortable with things exactly as they are right now - so have no real motivation to change anything. In fact, they put their energy into maintaining the status quo (but, of course, they deny that).

Meanwhile, I'm destined for another year of renting - and saving money.



I always imagined you were a property owner and investor, regularly subconsciously shilling for your own interests..

Perhaps you really just have an inspired finger on the pulse of the NZ housing market.

Perhaps they signed into the wrong account, again...

There's only one TTP.

My posts are always signed "TTP".


TTP - you don't practice what you preach...why? With what you've said in the past it's abit ironic you being a tenant.

Well the market keeps proving him right. Really, in hindsight TTP comes off EXTREMELY objective. I tip my hat to you Sir.

In my lifetime, I don't expect to see any appreciable fall in house price

If the massive money printing continues unabated, you could very well be right. If the whole monetary debacle comes down in a screaming heap, you're most likely to be wrong.

I don't see how this can continue much longer.

No, they won't be much needed houses, they will be 4 bed 2 (at least) bathroom, internal double/triple access garage etc, etc, etc which is not what we need, we need smaller started houses for those who can't afford to start their journey somewhere in the middle to the top of the housing strata.

I was in Auckland earlier this month, visiting friends. The house next door to them had been demolished and the owner was going to build townhouses. The section behind that, had townhouses already under construction. You could see that theme everywhere throughout the Auckland suburbs.

Out of interest, I checked the rental prices and compared to Wellington. It's already obviously cheaper in Auckland and I expect they'll get cheaper there as this progresses. On the flight back, I looked at all the empty land in the Ohariu-Makara area. I know it's not flat easy building, but still.....

Wgtn CC plan says it won't open up development in Ohariu-Makara because then people will drive to work, causing carbon emissions. Seriously. Putting all their eggs in the density basket which I've seen fail overseas. When Auckland is looking relatively affordable you've got a special kind of dysfunction going on. How far Wellington has fallen.

Very far indeed. I'm actually considering leaving, after being in Wellington for 21 years. My recent trips to Auckland and ChCh have shown what's possible, when there's a will.

I need to looking at the WCC plan. But "carbon emissions", seriously?! Given the city's bus services are steadily going electric, with private vehicles to also become more so as well. But the ability to see more than 1 year ahead has not been a trait of WCC for quite a while now.

WCC are so dumb not opening up Ohariu-Makara area. Literally less than 4km as the crow flies from parliament and you are in a marginal sheep farm. It's madness.

What they need to do is put 2 road and rail tunnels through Te Ahumairangi and Crofton Downs hills under the Wilton Substation to come out in the valley. Then relink the train to the Johnsonville line (to make it a loop instead of it's currently in/out) and reconnect the road South of Tawa to SH1. Really, it's not rocket science. I am continually flabbergasted that they have not set aside the land for this in the future as it's blindingly obvious when you look at a map.

Agree entirely, Blobbles.

But every councillor/politician and bureaucrat from WCC that I've ever come across has been bone from the neck up.

Auckland Council seems somewhat better - thank goodness.


Could the scales tip? If you have a combination of infill and Greenfields developments all off doing their own thing, is anyone actually talking about what's required?

How many houses do we need to satisfy the shortage? 10k, 20k, 30k? If it's 20k, and we have...say...15k greenfield sections and 10k infill all coming online in the next 6 months...then what? Open the borders? And how long until we realize the market has been saturated?

I'd rather have a saturated market of modern, up to standard, houses rather than a shortfall consisting of a large number of substandard houses. Obviously I'm not a property investor and never intend to be one. But saturation allows some leeway for the future, rather than the socioeconomic distorted mess we have now.

It could, but we're probably a long way off that. At the moment demand is not just 'natural' demand (FHBs/up- and down-traders) but speculative. When there's speculative demand and credit is easy to get, the demand is strong regardless of the supply situation. There would definitely be a lag between the point where we have adequate or excess supply, and when property buyers actually see it and stop overpaying.

The problem is, they demolish a 5br house worth 1.5 million to build six 2/3br units for 1 million+ each (at least in my area, East Coast Bays). The price floor has risen to the limit of what the banks are willing to lend to FHB's.

Don't forget the banks are constrained by regulation, most especially around debt servicing requirements - while we don't have DTIs yet, the rules have tightened up a bit over recent years. There's only so much banks CAN lend to a FHB.

And the LVR rules come back in 11 weeks, so (most) FHBs will need to provide 20% equity again. Watch Auckland - it will be interesting to see how the supply & demand balance plays out, from April onwards.

Yes, anecdotally, Auckland rents are starting to look better than Wellington. But in the Hutt, I just recorded a decrease on a recently listed new-build two-story townhouse - a few of which are coming on the market at the same time. This 3 bed/2 bath moved from $720/week to $680/week.

Mind you, at $680/week one needs a gross household income of $118,000 pa to make that at the top end of affordable;

Out of interest, what was floorspace of the property if you know? I did see some 2 bedroom townhouses slated for a development in Taita, but they weren't very big.

I suspect that whether its $720 or $680 one will need two people working full time or one high earner with another filling in the gap or a flatmate situation. Be interesting for you to monitor and see if its delisted after a while.

Yes, my spreadsheet notes date of listing and date of withdrawal (i.e., delisted). Very few being withdrawn since I started monitoring, but then it has been the holiday period.

Kate you and I monitor the same market- although I only look at rental prices over $650 ($650 is serviceable for the average family or 3-4 students in one property). There is a recent property in Riddlers Cr (1930's house)- sold in Dec - Rental listed last week at $880 - he has already knocked it down to $820. The additional supply of new properties is definitely knocking down the prices on all houses. Why would you pay $800+ in Petone for a old 3 and 1 when you can get brand new for $680 a couple suburbs away

I didn't pick that one up, but I only monitor listings on Are you monitoring TradeMe? I did wonder whether that would have been more popular with agents/LLs.

Yeah, anecdotal too, but I think rents might be starting to shift down in Auckland. I have been watching a couple of new developments and they have had to drop the advertised rents on quite a few townhouses. And with lots of townhouses coming on line we will see more of this. I am not convinced rental demand is actually that strong right now. Again, anecdotally, it seems more 20-somethings are staying home, or boomeranging home to boomer parents. Small sample size, but stories from my son's friends, and my students.
And of course city apartment rents are likely to drop this year.

For price to fall a bit requires an oversupply of housing, enough housing isn’t enough...

That's no different to saying for prices to fall (rise) requires a deficit (surplus) of credit. Essentially meaningless.

Good news. The bad news is that the majority of these new builds are hideous boxes, sold at hideous prices.

Yep, but according to the planners, if that is what is being built, that must be what people want.

These are the same people that would conclude, that since there are more homeless living under bridges, then the solution is to build more bridges.

They seem to be doing a fairly good job from what I have seen. A lot of terraced houses going in near us but they look pretty good, ideal for the area really.

What areas that?

Would be interesting to add tiny house new builds numbers to these, they house people but are not inc in consents. My understanding is that tiny house builders are pretty busy at the moment