A surge in New South Wales has seen the number of housing starts in Australia hit record highs, the latest data shows.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, ground broke on a whopping 48,964 houses and multi-unit dwellings throughout Australia in the three months to March, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This figure is higher than at any other time in history since ABS records began.

Both key sectors of the market contributed to the boom, with multi-unit construction starts hitting record highs of 20,922 and detached housing starts surging 12.8 per cent to come in at 27,654, the highest level in more than three years.

Furthermore, the second consecutive quarter of growth in the renovations sector added further weight to the notion that activity in this sector has bottomed out, albeit with quarterly growth remaining modest (0.8 per cent) and coming off a low base.

Housing Industry Association chief economist Harley Dale welcomed the latest data, adding that the benefits of the housing boom were spreading into other otherwise struggling sectors such as retail and manufacturing but stressing further policy reform was necessary in order to ensure adequate levels of housing supply for an aging population over the longer term.

“The annual level of new dwelling commencements is at its highest since late 2010 and at 176,891 is approaching historical peaks, with further upward momentum to come,” Dale said. “At a time when the economy is generally regarded to be under-performing, new home building is achieving the opposite outcome.”

In terms of states, although the Australian Capital Territory (up 31.6 per cent) and Victoria (up 15.6 per cent) were the top performers, all states except for South Australia recorded increases in activity.

Moreover, in a further sign the benefits of the recovery are spreading beyond geographical boundaries, dwelling commencements are running above decade averages in every state except for Tasmania.

housing starts - state