Building approvals improves in March

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Building approvals rose by 9.1% during the month of March, according to the latest figures from the ABS, but were down 8.9% on the previous quarter.

“Today’s numbers are driven by a significant rise in approvals in the highly volatile private sector other dwellings segment, which were up by 26.1% in March,” said HIA senior economist Andrew Harvey.

He went on to note however that it isn’t all good news, with overall approvals being down by 15.9% on the same quarter the previous year, and detached dwelling approvals seeing a fall of 1.3% during the month of March.

“Although detached housing approvals have fallen again, it is good to see at least some positive news in the apartment sector. Nevertheless, we are conscious that the March increase in approvals follows two months of double-digit falls,” said Harvey.

“Furthermore, it is unclear as to what extent we will see these other dwelling approvals flow through to building starts. With ongoing tight credit conditions and stagnant residential prices there is a real risk that even though approved, a larger number than usual of these projects may not proceed,” he added.

In seasonally adjusted terms Victoria saw the biggest increase in building approvals of 26.8%, while the big losers were South Australia (-22.5%) and Queensland (-15%).

“It is disappointing to see that Queensland’s approvals continue to fall, reaffirming the Sunshine State’s position as the weakest residential building market in Australia,” said Harvey.

Improvements were seen in several other states however, including New South Wales (8.5%), Tasmania (5.85) and Western Australia (3.4%).

When compared to the results for the same quarter last year, nationwide approvals are down by 15.9%.

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