1 Mar 2013

New house consents ease

8:03 am on 1 March 2013

Consents for new houses have eased slightly, as the number of new apartments fell.

Statistics New Zealand says the number of consents fell a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in January, after a revised rise of 9.4% in December.

Excluding new apartments, the new housing consents rose 9.6%, after a dip of 0.6% in the previous month.

Apartment numbers vary from month to month but Statistics New Zealand said new housing activity, including apartments, has risen 50% since the low point of March 2011.

ASB senior economist Jane Turner said Canterbury and Auckland together accounted for more than half of the consents issued.

She said continued recovery in building demand is expected because of supply issues in Auckland and the Canterbury rebuilding programme.

Ms Turner says this should affect some of the supply issues but won't influence the housing market until later this year or early 2014.

She said the Reserve Bank will be encouraged to see a pick-up in consents as it suggests some of the housing market pressures will be alleviated by increased supply, reducing the need for the central bank to increase the Official Cash Rate to reduce demand.

Ms Turner said the Reserve Bank is expected to leave the official cash rate on hold until March 2014, particularly taking into account the subdued inflation pressures and the elevated New Zealand dollar.