December 2009 building approvals increase: Tas and Vic lead the way

BUILDING approvals in Australia grew by a seasonally adjusted 2.2 per cent in December 2009, and by 53.3 per cent compared to December 2008 figures, according to data released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Seasonally adjusted, nearly $8 billion worth of building was approved in December.

Victoria (+4.6%), Queensland (+2.2%) South Australia (+0.5%) and Western Australian (+3.3%) recorded more private sector house approvals this month according to the ABS. New South Wales recorded a slight decrease (-0.3%) in private sector house approvals. There was no seasonally adjusted data available for Northern Territory and ACT.

Overall, all states except New South Wales (-12.7%) achieved gains in the number of total dwelling units approved. Seasonally adjusted data shows that Tasmania recorded growth of 21.7 per cent in December, Victoria (+11.1%), Queensland (+4.0%), Western Australia (1.3%) and South Australia (0.1%).

The value of total building approvals fell 3.7% in December. Non-residential building approvals (-9.4%) also fell. However, the value of approved new residential buildings increased by 3.0%.

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) said building approvals were “moving in the right direction” and “a positive sign that the new home building recovery is well underway.” However the HIA warned that 2010 presents new challenges as the impact of the federal stimulus and low interest rates wanes along with the removal of the first home buyers grant and the potential for higher interest rates.

“The fundamentals of strong population and employment growth can be expected to push high housing demand. Without an adequate supply response, price pressures and further erosion of housing affordability will be inevitable,” said HIA Senior Economist, Mr Ben Phillips.

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