Building consents climb for third straight month

Friday 30 October 2009

New residential building consents climbed for a third straight month as a resurgent housing market stoked construction activity amid strong demand for property.

By Paul McBeth

New building permits, including apartments, climbed 3.3% in September, adding to gains in July and August, according to Statistics New Zealand. Permits were issued for 155 new apartments, 93% of which were associated with retirement villages, from just 30 in August. 

"The recovery in residential construction continues to lag behind the recovery in housing demand," said Jane Turner, economist at ASB in a report. "Low interest rates and an increase in net migration have underpinned a lift in demand for housing - however, supply has been sluggish to respond."  

The property market has come back from its lows earlier this year amid unusually low mortgage rates and excess demand for new houses, with the national median price rising to $350,000 last month, according to Real Estate Institute data.

The construction sector has supported rising business confidence, with the National Bank Business Outlook showing the industry leading the survey's rankings in sentiment, activity expectations, employment, profit and investment.  

Turner said commercial construction has remained relatively "steady" over the past 18 months, with an increase in the number of permits issued for offices and administration buildings, along with social, cultural and religious buildings.  

The value of non-residential consents fell 43% to $257 million from the same month a year earlier, and was down from $384 million in August. New residential consents excluding apartments rose 2.8% seasonally adjusted to 1,275, the highest level since August last year.

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