New Zealand residential building consents in December fell for the first time in three months, rounding out a year in which the number of permits issued reached a seven-year high.
The number of new residential permits issued in December fell 2.1 per cent to 2,198, seasonally adjusted, after gains in both October and November of more than 10 per cent, according to Statistics New Zealand.
Consents in all of 2014 rose 16 per cent to 24,680, the highest since 2007.
The Reserve Bank said on Thursday that the housing market was showing signs of picking up, particularly in Auckland, adding there is the chance of an interest rate cut, a move that could reduce mortgage costs and further fuel the property boom.
Auckland contributed most to the increase in annual consents in 2014, which rose 20 per cent to 7,595, while in Canterbury they rose 27 per cent to 7,308 and in Waikato were up 5.5 per cent to 2,369.
In the month, dwelling consents in Auckland fell to 630 from 967 in November. Waikato consents rose to 192 from 181, and those in Wellington rose to 171 from 104. Canterbury led gains in South Island with 732 from 726 in November.
“The Canterbury rebuild continues to underpin residential and non-residential building demand and indicates further Canterbury construction activity growth,” said Jane Turner, economist at ASB.
“A slowdown in Auckland residential building growth could result in further acceleration in Auckland house price growth over 2015. Stronger house prices should act as a signal to build.”