Dwelling approvals climb 0.9 per cent in January

THE number of dwellings approved rose 0.9 per cent in January 2012, in seasonally adjusted terms, following a revised fall of 0.8 per cent in December, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Dwelling approvals increased for the month of January in New South Wales (37.6 per cent) and South Australia (6.9 per cent) but fell in Queensland (-22.1 per cent), Tasmania (-3.0 per cent), Victoria (-2.7 per cent) and Western Australia (-0.4 per cent), in seasonally adjusted terms.

In seasonally adjusted terms, approvals for private sector houses fell 0.1 per cent in January with falls in Victoria (-6.7 per cent) and New South Wales (-3.5 per cent), while South Australia (10.5 per cent), Queensland (6.2 per cent) and Western Australia (2.9 per cent) all rose.

The value of total buildings approved increased 52.7 per cent in January in seasonally adjusted terms, following an increase of 2.0 per cent in December.

The value of residential building increased 1.1 per cent while non-residential building rose 131.8 per cent.

Following the release, the Housing Industry Association (HIA) said building approvals barely rose and continued the weak run for new home construction.

"Abstracting from what was a big result for New South Wales, building approvals fell heavily in January this year," said HIA Chief Economist, Harley Dale, adding that if New South Wales was excluded, approvals would have fallen by nearly 9 per cent in January.

Dr Dale said Australia's interest rate settings are too high and called for immediate government focus on policy reform to boost flagging levels of new housing supply.

Despite NSW recording positive dwelling approval gains for the month of January, property development group, Urban Taskforce, said ABS figures for construction work done during the December 2011 quarter show the value of housing construction in Victoria is 230 per cent more than that of NSW, on a per capita basis.

"The construction value from NSW housing in the December 2011 quarter was $165 a person while in Victoria it was $381 per person and in Queensland construction value was $243 per person." said Urban Taskforce CEO, Chris Johnson.

"The construction figures reflect planning decisions approvals made well over a year ago but the fact that NSW is still so far below the other states, on a per capita basis, is making it very difficult for NSW to be number one again."

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