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March housing consents hit a 26-year high

By Jenny Ruth

Monday 5th May 2003

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 Jenny Ruth
The number of housing consents rebounded sharply in March, resulting in the highest number in the month of March since 1977.

Again, consents for apartments were the culprit. Apartment consents have accounted for most of the volatility in recent months and they surged again in March, according to Statistics New Zealand.

There were 2,537 consents for new dwellings worth $435.7 million approved in March, 21.7% more than in February when 1,797 worth $330.4 million were approved.

The government statistician says most regions recorded higher consent numbers compared with March last year.

Apartment consents jumped to 476 in March from just 54 in March. Excluding apartments, consents in March were unchanged from February but were 17% higher than a year ago.

In the year ended March, there were 28,320 consents worth $4.54 billion issued, 33.2% more than the 21,262 consents worth $3.35 billion issued the previous year.

Despite today's figures, Darren Gibbs, senior economist at Deutsche Bank, says they are consistent with his view that the market peaked back in November "and that a gently slowdown is now underway."

"It's certainly peaked in terms of growth rates," Gibbs says. "I'm not saying it's coming off quickly - if anything, it's plateaued."

He attributes the housing market's strength to the strong inward migration flows in recent months but says residential building has now almost caught up with demand so there's little reason for continued exponential growth in supply.

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