30 May 2017

Consents for new homes fall again

1:29 pm on 30 May 2017

The number of building consents for new homes has fallen for the second month in a row, which is being put down to the timing of Easter.

auckland housing

Photo: 123RF

Official figures show permits fell a seasonally-adjusted 7.6 percent in April compared with the previous month. Permits fell 1.2 percent in March, and rose 15.4 percent in February.

"Councils don't usually issue building consents on public holidays, so the timing of Easter drove a fall in April's building consents," Stats NZ business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said.

Some analysts suggested other factors may also explain the drop.

"This year's close proximity to ANZAC day may have resulted in a very quiet period in between Easter and ANZAC day," ASB senior economist Jane Turner said.

The number of permits totalled 2106 permits last month, compared with more than 2361 a year ago, with fewer houses offseting gains for apartments and townhouses.

"While the number of standalone dwelling consents has eased, there's a trend increase in multi-unit consents. This potentially reflects increased activity from developers now that the (Auckland) Unitary Plan has cleared its legal hurdles," Westpac Bank senior economist Satish Ranchhod said.

On an annual basis, consents are running at 30,371 - the most for an April year since 2004.

But questions remain about the ability of the construction industry to lift the rate of construction much further to satisfy pent-up demand, particularly in Auckland.

"The fall in the (April) month continues a trend evident for some time now where issuance has struggled to push much above the highs seen in mid-2016," ANZ senior economist Phil Borkin said.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that capacity and capital constraints are capping the upside and we don't see that changing much any time soon."

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