Australia

Dwelling approvals rise in March 2011

NEW statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that the total number of dwellings approved in March 2011 increased by 9.1 per cent, in seasonally adjusted terms, after falling by 5.3 per cent in February.

Dwelling approvals increased for the month of March in Victoria (26.8 per cent), New South Wales (8.5 per cent), Tasmania (5.8 per cent) and Western Australia (3.4 per cent). South Australia (-22.5 per cent) and Queensland (-15.0 per cent) experienced decreases in seasonally adjusted terms.

In seasonally adjusted terms, approvals for private sector houses fell 0.8 per cent in March with falls in Western Australia (-8.4 per cent), New South Wales (-5.6 per cent) and South Australia (-2.1 per cent) while there were rises in Queensland (8.2 per cent) and Victoria (3.7 per cent).

The value of total building approved rose 20.8 per cent in March in seasonally adjusted terms. The value of total residential building rose by 3.9 per cent while non-residential building rose by 47.6 per cent.

The ABS said that widespread flooding and other recent natural disasters have not adversely affected participation by providers in the Building Approvals collection or the quality of estimates in this release. However, the ABS said that these events may have had an impact on the number of approved dwellings and the value of approved work in March 2011.

HIA Senior Economist, Andrew Harvey, said that while residential building approvals increased in March, they were down by 8.9 per cent over the quarter. Total approvals in the three months to March 2011 are 15.8 per cent lower than in the corresponding period one year earlier.

"In terms of the jurisdictions much of the March increase is due to a 26.8 per cent increase in Victorian approvals, which have rebounded after large falls in January and February.  However, it is disappointing to see that Queensland's approvals continue to fall, reaffirming the Sunshine State's position as the weakest residential building market in Australia," said Mr Harvey.

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