Building consents for new homes dropped in November last year, mainly due to a sharp fall in the number of apartments.
Statistics New Zealand says the number of consents granted for new houses and apartments fell to 1384 in November, 5.9% lower than the previous year.
However, excluding apartments - which can be volatile - residential building consents actually rose 2.5%.
The number of consents rose in Auckland, but fell in Canterbury, Wellington and Otago.
Goldman Sachs economist Phillip Borkin says there are a number of reasons for the drop, including the private sector avoiding taking on further debt at the moment.
Mr Borkin expects consents to tentatively increase over the year.