Australian Housing Starts Rise Above 163,000

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Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
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In further confirmation of the recovery in residential construction throughout Australia, the latest data shows a further surge in housing starts throughout the nation.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that ground broke on 40,331 homes throughout the nation (seasonally adjusted) in the September quarter. Those numbers are slightly down on the previous quarter (41,772) but still above the 39,304 starts which occurred in the same quarter one year earlier and mark the fourth consecutive month on record for which the number of commencements has come in at over 40,000.

All up, construction started on 163,250 homes in the 12 months to September last year, up from 146,343 in the year to September 2012.

Housing Industry Association chief economist Harley Dale welcomed the latest figures, saying start numbers over the 12 months to September are at their highest levels since 2004 if the post-GFC stimulus related spike in excluded.

Still, he cautioned the recovery was being geographically driven by New South Wales and Western Australia and also by growth in the multi-residential sector as well as detached housing. Detached housing did record moderate gains in starts over the September quarter, however, while multi-residential eased back.

“The overall recovery in new dwelling commencements since the trough in March 2012 is still being driven by New South Wales and Western Australia, although Queensland is showing clear signs of improvement,” Dale said in a statement. “The recovery is also being driven primarily by other dwellings (multi-units) rather than detached housing. Both segments are growing, but annual commencements for detached houses are 9 percent below their 20 year average while commencements of multi-units are running 35 percent above their 20 year average.”

“This compositional change has an influence on the extent of the boost that domestic manufacturers and retailers will experience from the new home building recovery. [However,] Overall, the upward trajectory in new dwelling commencements is still clearly a positive factor for the broader domestic economy.”

New South Wales and Western Australia recorded seasonally adjusted gains of 8.6 per cent and four per cent respectively, while commencements also rose in South Australia (2.4 per cent), the Northern Territory (1.9 per cent) and Queensland (0.2 per cent).

Housing start numbers dropped, however, by 8.5 per cent in Victoria and 5.4 per cent in Tasmania, and plummeted 32.7 per cent in the Australian Capital Territory.

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