Building industry economists in Australia have welcomed another strong round of housing construction finance data, saying the figures provide further confirmation of increasing financing activity and demand for new housing and bode well for the outlook in residential construction.

Released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday, the latest figures show that on a seasonally adjusted basis, the combined number of loans for the purchase  or construction of new homes during February came in at 8,755 – down 1.0 percent on January’s peak but still the second highest reading in more than four and a half years.

Whilst the number of loans made for new housing construction (6,139) edged up marginally to hit new four year highs, that for loans made to consumers for new home purchases (2,616) eased back 5.0 percent.

Compared with the same period twelve months earlier, the overall number of loans made for the purchase or construction of new homes over the three months to February (seasonally adjusted) was up by 15.36 percent.

 housing construction finance

Housing Industry Association Economist Diwa Hopkins welcomed the latest result, which she said indicated strength in demand for new housing from both owner-occupiers and investors.

“This strong growth in housing finance is consistent with other leading indicators of the residential construction sector, including dwelling approvals and new home sales,” Hopkins said, adding that a sustained recovery in home building was necessary in order to address housing affordability issues.

Master Builders Australia Chief Executive Wilhelm Harnisch agrees, saying current levels of housing finance auger well for the prospects of a continued recovery in new home building and will add to overall levels of growth and employment opportunities in the near term future.