HomeBuilder boosts house approvals

By Gerv Tacadena | 01 Oct 2020

The federal government's HomeBuilder scheme has started to benefit the housing market, as the approval for detached houses continues to grow, latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show.

Approvals for houses increased by 4.8% in August, extending the 8.6% growth recorded in the previous month. On the other hand, approval for units and apartments fell sharply by 11%, dragging the overall dwelling approval to a 1.6% decline.

"The August results indicate increasing demand for detached housing following the relaxation of restrictions in most states and territories. However, approvals for apartments remain weak, at near eight-year lows," said Daniel Rossi, director of construction statistics at ABS.

The growth in approvals for detached housing reflects the positive impacts of the HomeBuilder scheme, said Angela Lillicrap, an economist at the Housing Industry Association. This was evident in Western Australia, which, after years of decline, showed a 32.9% increase in approvals.

"This is consistent with other leading indicators that show that HomeBuilder and the state government’s Building Bonus have stimulated demand for new homes," Lillicrap said.

Queensland also recorded a substantial increase, with approvals for detached homes surging by 13.4%. Lillicrap said other states have yet to reflect the impacts of HomeBuilder due to several factors.

"This reflects a range of factors including, longer processing times with local councils and delays in the finalisation of building plans between the customer and builder, and a stronger pipeline of existing work," she said.

Maree Kilroy, economist at BIS Oxford Economics, said the gains in the detached segment prevented a further drag on overall approvals.

"Over the coming months the HomeBuilder program and record low interest rates are set to put a floor under dwelling approvals nationally, with a solid pick up in land sales and buyer interest in most states providing an encouraging lead for new dwelling demand," she said.

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