ABS building approvals remained at an elevated, albeit slightly lower level in December 2014, after reaching their highest ever monthly level during November, noted the Housing Industry Association, the voice of Australia’s residential building industry.

Figures released today show that the total number of new homes approved in December 2014 was 3.3 per cent below the record reached in November, although this level was still 8.8 per cent higher than in December 2013.

“The ‘multi-unit’ sector continues to be the key driver of building approval results,” said HIA Economist, Geordan Murray. “The sharp spike in multi-unit approvals in Victoria in November was reversed in December (down by 44.0 per cent). There were some partial offsets with multi-unit approvals growing in New South Wales (up by 52.0 per cent), Queensland (up by 3.1 per cent) and South Australia (up by 130.6 per cent from a low base). In aggregate, the number of multi-unit approvals across the country fell by 7.9 per cent in December, although the number approved was 12.7 per cent higher than the corresponding month a year earlier.”

“Detached house approval numbers were very consistent on a month by month basis throughout 2014. Across the nation, approvals for new detached dwellings increased by 1.1 per cent in the month which represents a continuation of the trend level of around 9,500 approvals per month that has persisted throughout 2014.”

“Looking at the performance of Australia’s major industries in 2014, residential building was amongst the top performers. The low and stable interest rate environment has provided support for demand from home buyers during the year and this situation looks to remain the case throughout 2015.”

During December 2014, seasonally-adjusted new dwelling approvals increased most strongly in New South Wales (+26.9 per cent), followed by South Australia (+26.8 per cent). Increases also occurred in Queensland (+1.7 per cent) and in Western Australia (+1.1 per cent). Declines in new home approvals were recorded in Victoria (-26.3 per cent) and in Tasmania (-8.3 per cent). In trend terms, new dwelling approvals fell in the Australian Capital Territory (-1.9 per cent) and in the Northern Territory (-2.5 per cent).