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Consent figures point to weak construction in first half

Wednesday 30th March 2011

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A fall in building consent numbers for new dwellings last month to the lowest seasonally adjusted number in about two years is seen as indicating weak dwelling construction for the first half of 2011.

But ANZ is expecting construction activity to firm in the second half of 2011, saying residential consents cannot remain as low as they are now, given ongoing population growth and earthquake rebuilding.

"Housing shortages were already starting to emerge in Auckland, and are now extreme in Christchurch. With construction sector resources focusing on the Canterbury rebuild, building shortages may be exacerbated in other regions," ANZ said.

A fall in residential consents had been inevitable as a result of the February 22 Christchurch earthquake, with the weaker housing market also a factor.

Statistics New Zealand figures published today show 973 consents were issued for new dwelling units last month, down 29% from February 2010. When apartments were excluded the fall was even bigger - down 35% to 884 new units - as the number of apartments consented was 76 higher than a year before at 89.

Seasonally adjusted, the number of new dwellings authorised was down 7.8% from January when apartments were excluded, the lowest level since February 2009. Including apartments the fall was 9.7% to the lowest level since January 2009.

The value of residential building consents was 20% lower in February than a year earlier at $389 million, while the value of non-residential building consents fell 19% to $257 million. For all buildings the value was down 19% to $645 million.

In the year to February, the value of residential consents was up 2.1% to $5.41 billion, that of non-residential buildings fell 14% to $3.71 billion, while for all buildings the value was down 5.2% to $9.12 billion.

In Canterbury, dwelling consents were 101 units lower than a year earlier at 148 but SNZ said it was not possible to say how much of that fall was due to the earthquake.

ASB economist Chris Tennent-Brown said earthquake-related consents from the September quake had not shown up to any significant degree in consents for the months from September to January.

The increased scale of destruction in the February quake meant repair work was unlikely to get under way in a meaningful sense until late this year, and it could be several months before quake-related consents started to be seen in the data.

 

NZPA



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