New Zealand building consents have held steady, underpinned by approvals for apartments and retirement village units.
The number of seasonally adjusted consents was flat at 2,104 in August, the same reading as in July, which recorded a 1.7 per cent drop from the previous month, Statistics New Zealand said on Tuesday.
Excluding apartments, which can be volatile, consents dropped 1.6 per cent to a seasonally adjusted 1,794 in August, following a 2.3 per cent drop in July.
“Residential building consents were flat in August, slightly better than our assumption of a one per cent decline, but with more of a skew towards apartment units, which includes retirement units, than we expected,” Michael Gordon, senior economist at Westpac Banking Corp, said in a note.
“Indeed, it’s clear that the apartments segment of the market has become a major growth area again in the last year.”
Auckland, where a housing shortage is pushing up prices, made up a third of dwelling consents in August.
The number of consents, on an unadjusted basis, fell 23 per cent in the month to 656. On a yearly basis, consents were 30 per cent higher than in August 2013 and three quarters were for apartments.
The pace of consents slowed in Canterbury for a second consecutive month. The country’s second-largest city is being rebuilt after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and consents slipped 17 per cent to 540 in August, extending a fall from a high of 623 in June. Canterbury consents were 16 per cent ahead of August last year.
Combined Auckland and Canterbury consents account for 59 per cent of New Zealand’s building activity.
In Wellington, consents were almost unchanged from July at 118 from 119, and compared with 113 in July last year.