Apartment Building Approvals Fall 40 Per Cent
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Apartment Building Approvals Fall 40 Per Cent

The lowest non-house building approval rate since January 2012.

By Terry Christodoulou
Wed, Mar 3, 2021 5:26amGrey Clock < 1 min

Building approvals for apartments and townhouses were down 40 per cent at the end of January, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, signalling a significant slowing of the high-density sector.

The data indicated the lowest non-house building approval rate since January 2012, with the number of dwellings approved falling 19.4% in January. Private house dwelling approval rates were down 12 per cent.

“Despite the fall, private house approvals remain 38 per cent higher than in January 2020,” said Daniel Rossi, Director of Construction Statistics at the ABS.

“The surge in Homebuilder applications at the end of 2020, as well as the extension of the program to March, will continue to provide support for private house approvals in the coming months.”

Total dwelling approvals fell across all states in January; Queensland (33.3 per cent), Tasmania (24.8 per cent), New South Wales (23.2 per cent), Victoria (13.0 per cent), Western Australia (4.1 per cent) and South Australia (0.5 per cent).

Approvals for private sector houses also fell across all states in January; New South Wales (19.0 per cent), Queensland (19.0 per cent), Victoria (8.4 per cent), South Australia (3.7 per cent) and Western Australia (0.9 per cent).

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House values continued to fall last month, but the pace of decline has slowed, CoreLogic reports.

In signs that the RBA’s aggressive approach to monetary policy is making an impact, CoreLogic’s Home Value Index reveals national dwelling values fell -1.0 percent in November, marking the smallest monthly decline since June.

The drop represents a -7.0 percent decline – or about $53,400 –  since the peak value recorded in April 2022. Research director at CoreLogic, Tim Lawless, said the Sydney and Melbourne markets are leading the way, with the capital cities experiencing the most significant falls. But it’s not all bad news for homeowners.

“Three months ago, Sydney housing values were falling at the monthly rate of -2.3 percent,” he said. “That has now reduced by a full percentage point to a decline of -1.3 percent in November.  In July, Melbourne home values were down -1.5 percent over the month, with the monthly decline almost halving last month to -0.8%.”

The rate of decline has also slowed in the smaller capitals, he said.  

“Potentially we are seeing the initial uncertainty around buying in a higher interest rate environment wearing off, while persistently low advertised stock levels have likely contributed to this trend towards smaller value falls,” Mr Lawless said. “However, it’s fair to say housing risk remains skewed to the downside while interest rates are still rising and household balance sheets become more thinly stretched.” 

The RBA has raised the cash rate from 0.10 in April  to 2.85 in November. The board is due to meet again next week, with most experts still predicting a further increase in the cash rate of 25 basis points despite the fall in house values.

Mr Lawless said if interest rates continue to increase, there is potential for declines to ‘reaccelerate’.

“Next year will be a particular test of serviceability and housing market stability, as the record-low fixed rate terms secured in 2021 start to expire,” Mr Lawless said.

Statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week also reveal a slowdown in the rate of inflation last month, as higher mortgage repayments and cost of living pressures bite into household budgets.

However, ABS data reveals ongoing labour shortages and high levels of construction continues to fuel higher prices for new housing, although the rate of price growth eased in September and October. 

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