The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released the Building Approvals data for the month of December. At the national level, the number of dwelling approvals fell by a seasonally adjusted -4.4% to 12,767, with falls recorded in both the detached house (-3.3%) and apartment (-5.4%) segments. Consensus was for a total rise of 1.0%.
In the year to December 2012, dwelling approvals rose by a seasonally-adjusted 9.3%, with the -3.8% fall in house approvals more than offset by a 31.7% rise in apartment approvals (see next table).
A chart showing the time series of seasonally-adjusted dwelling approvals at the national level is provided below, split-out by detached houses and units & apartments:
As you can see, dwelling approvals nationally were trending down since early 2010, but received a large boost in May and June 2012 when the number of unit & apartment approvals bounced. This unit and apartments boom has been volatile ever since, retracing and then recovering, before retracing again.
Monthly dwelling approvals are now running just below long-term average levels, as shown by the below chart. However, they remain fairly depressed in population-adjusted terms, given that Australia’s population has grown by more than 40% over the past 30-years.
The below chart shows the time-series of approvals at the state level:
This month’s falls were driven by Victoria, where approvals fell by -550 units (-12%). New South Wales also recorded a -1% fall in approvals, which is concerning given the October introduction of generous first home buyer incentives aimed at new housing. On the other hand, approvals rose in Queensland by +8%, suggesting that similar first home buyer concessions might be starting to bite. Elsewhere, increases were recorded in Western Australia (+1%) and South Australia (+2%), whereas sharp falls were recorded in Tasmania (-22%), the ACT (-39%) and the Northern Territory (-33%).