31 Mar 2010

Gradual recovery in number of housing permits

10:29 am on 31 March 2010

Economists say the number of housing permits is continuing its gradual recovery, bolstered by low interest rates and migrants.

Official figures show consents for new houses and apartments rose a seasonally-adjusted 30% to 1,399 in February compared with the same period a year ago.

Excluding volatile apartment numbers, consents jumped 57% - its highest level since May 2008.

Despite the strong numbers, Goldman Sachs JB Were economist Philip Borkin says growth in the housing market is coming off a low base.

Apartment permits totaled 13 in the month - its lowest level in nearly 15 years, which analysts say reflects an overhang of second-hand apartments.

The value of residential consents, including alterations and additions, jumped 35% to $484 million in February. Non-residential consents slumped 17% to $317 million.

Research director at Colliers International Alan McMahon says this area normally lags the broader economic pick-up.