The rising trend in building consents issued slowed in February, as seasonally adjusted figures showed the number of consents issued during the month fell 6.7% from January, Statistics New Zealand said today.
The rate of the upward trend had slowed in recent months, Statistics New Zealand said. The trend for the number of new houses, including apartments, has risen 23 percent since April 2011, which was the lowest point in the data's 30-year history.
After seasonal fluctuations were removed, housing consents fell 6.7 percent in February, after rising 8.1 percent in the month before.
"February's decrease partly offset the January increase, which was due to the relatively large number of apartments approved in January," industry and labour statistics manager Blair Cardno said.
"As a result, February's level is similar to December's."
Housing consent numbers for February 2012, compared with February 2011, were:
- 1,204 new houses, including apartments, up 24 percent
- 1,142 new houses, excluding apartments, up 29 percent
- 62 new apartments, all of which were retirement village units, down from 89 apartments.
More new houses were consented in 11 of New Zealand's 16 regions, in February 2012 compared with February 2011. While Canterbury showed the largest regional increase (up 112, to 260 new houses), this reflected the low number approved last year, likely due to the major earthquake on 22 February 2011, Stats NZ said.
27 home consents in Christchurch
In Canterbury, earthquake-related building consents totalled NZ$41 million in February 2012. Of this, NZ$30 million was for non-residential work, and NZ$11 million was for residential work, including 27 new houses.
ASB economist Christina Leung;
Residential building consent issuance was weak in February, falling 6.7% over the month. This follows an 8.1% increase in the previous month, when the spike in consent issuance for retirement units in Canterbury drove the increase in apartment consent issuance. Over February, only 62 retirement village units were consented compared to 174 in January, which meant a decline in apartments consented.
Nonetheless, excluding the volatile apartments component dwelling consent issuance increased only 1.2%. This suggests residential building activity will be fairly subdued over the coming months. Given the continued improvement in housing market activity, we expect stronger housing demand will eventually flow through to increased residential building activity over 2012.
Non-residential building consent issuance was strong in February, up 46% compared to year-ago levels, but this appears to be a bounce back from a very weak consent issuance in January. Non-residential consents are often lumpy and very volatile month to month. The trend in non-residential consents remains subdued. Consent issuance has broadly stabilised over 2011, following declines in activity since 2009. While commercial construction intentions have improved over recent months, they point to only modest growth in commercial building construction.
Earthquake-related consents continue to gradually pick up, with $41 million of February consents indentified as being earthquake-related. Most of the earthquake-related consents have been for non-residential building.
Consent issuance remains very weak, indicating a very subdued construction outlook in the near term. Low levels of housing construction over the first half of 2012 will continue to put pressure on the housing supply and generate upward pressure on house prices, particularly in Auckland and Canterbury. We expect post-earthquake rebuilding will ramp up from late 2012, and this will likely see some easing in housing supply constraints.
Overall, there remains little urgency for the RBNZ to increase the OCR, and we continue to expect it will remain on hold until December 2012.