FOLLOWING a revised decrease of 1.6 per cent in February, the number of new dwellings approved in March increased by 2.8 per cent, in seasonally adjusted terms, according to the latest figures released last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
A total of 19,419 dwellings were approved in March, compared to seasonally adjusted totals of 18,882 in February and 19,196 in January. When compared to the same month last year, the number of dwellings approved in March 2015 was up by 23.6 per cent, in seasonally adjusted terms.
In seasonally adjusted terms, dwelling approvals increased for the month of March in Tasmania (up 42.3 per cent to a total of 303 dwellings), South Australia (up 35.2 per cent to 944 dwellings), Western Australia (18.9 per cent to 2,622) and Queensland (8.1 per cent to 3,813).
In Victoria, a total of 5,942 dwelling approvals were recorded in March (down 6.0 per cent compared to February), and New South Wales recorded a total of 5,498 dwelling approvals (down 3.7 per cent compared to February).
In seasonally adjusted terms, 9,551 private sector houses were approved in March, compared to 9,445 in February. A total of 9,710 private sector dwellings excluding houses were approved in March, which was a 5.3 per cent increase when compared to February's result of 9,222.
The seasonally adjusted estimate of the value of total building approved rose 6.2 per cent in March following a fall of 18.1 per cent in the previous month. The value of residential building rose 5.6 per cent following a fall of 2.7 per cent in the previous month. The value of non-residential building rose 8.0 per cent following a fall of 42.9 per cent in the previous month.
Chief Economist of Master Builders Australia, Peter Jones, said "the rise in building approvals for March confirms the positive outlook for the housing market will continue amid signs of growth in detached houses, which have flatlined for 12 months, lagging behind high rise apartments."
"Master Builders estimates that around 220,000 dwellings will be approved in this financial year, while a further cut in rates would add further stimulus to the new housing market, helping to boost housing supply taking pressure off both house prices and rents," he said.
"The 2.8 per cent seasonally adjusted rise includes an encouraging 1.1 per cent rise in detached houses and a bounce-back in multi-unit developments of 5.3 per cent rise in the month," Mr Jones said.
"The national picture shows marked differences state by state. In contrast to the monthly results, the eastern states including Tasmania continue to power ahead. The big bounce back in South Australia is not enough to offset the plunge in approvals for February and the trend remains negative with a similar story in the West," Mr Jones concluded.
The Housing Industry Association's Senior Economist, Shane Garrett, said the "strong activity in the high density segment helped propel dwelling approvals to unprecedented levels in March."
"New home building continues to benefit from the exceptionally low level of interest rates, as well as strong population growth over recent years in the key home buyer age group," Mr Garrett added.
"While growth in multi-unit approvals has been very strong, the detached house side of the market has been pretty flat over the past year. It is important that constraints around planning and land supply are tackled in order to ensure that detached house building activity delivers on its full potential."