There has been a surprise growth in housing construction during the June quarter, driven by the strong showing in the apartment sector.
The number of homes commencing construction increased by 1.1% during the quarter, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show. This increase in the overall housing construction was due to a 21% lift in multi-unit starts, mainly in New South Wales and Western Australia.
Despite this sudden growth, it appears like the slowdown in overall housing stats has yet to reach its end. In fact, the detached-housing segment remained stuck in the doldrums, recording a 10.5% seasonally-adjusted drop in starts.
"We haven't reached the low yet. There's further moderation in the level of activity to go," EY chief economist Joanne Masters told The Australian Financial Review.
Read more: Population Growth Could Boost Residential Construction
An analysis by BIS Oxford Economics shows that the decline residential building has another year to go, taking dwelling commencements to an expected trough near 153,000 in the 2019-2020 financial year.
"While stimulus is now flowing positively to the established property market, it's not until the second half of 2020 that it is expected to wash through to new dwelling construction," BIS Oxford Economics principal economist Tim Hibbert said.
He said even with the growth in apartment starts, the sector is likely to be affected by recent issues.
"Apartments drove the boom and are driving the bust. They are where most of the downside risk resides. Highly publicised building defect issues have caused a crisis of confidence for potential off-the-plan buyers that has the scope to deepen or prolong the downturn in residential construction," he said.
Also read: Access To Credit Drags Construction Industry
However, there are hopes that the recent market developments involving interest rates and lending rules will help boost the construction market, said Housing Industry Association chief economist Tim Reardon.
"The impact of three cuts to interest rates and small fiscal stimulus has slowed the decline in work entering the pipeline. A return to normal lending conditions would provide a boost to home building and the wider economy," he said.
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