Building approvals show need for close eye on supply: Property Council

Building approvals show need for close eye on supply: Property Council
Building approvals show need for close eye on supply: Property Council


Building approvals are coming off record highs on a month by month basis, according to the latest ABS data, suggesting governments need to keep a close eye on the supply pipeline for new housing.

While nationally approvals still had enough momentum to hit 230,298 year on year on a seasonal basis, one good year won’t make up for a decade of underbuilding.

We are only now starting to see new housing supply eat into demand in key markets like Sydney and take some of the heat out of house prices.

A strong, sustainable pipeline of new housing is imperative to ensure future housing affordability and must be a priority for government.

ABS figures for September recorded 18,900 building approvals across the country, down from the previous highs of 20,000 per month recorded for much of 2015.

Recent data shows significant variations month on month across the states and territories ranging from a 42% increase in Queensland to a 39% fall in the ACT. It also pointed to an emerging trend for greater apartment and multi-unit living.

The 1.9% drop in private house approvals nationwide for the month of September was offset by continued strength in apartment approvals which grew by 6.1% on the previous month.

Apartment and multi-unit approvals are almost at parity with private sector houses, suggesting a changing demographic trend and increased growth in our major cities.

While a degree of moderation in record high residential construction activity is expected, governments needed to guard against any sudden drops.

Maintaining a steady supply of new housing is vital to keep up with population increases, household formation rates, and to avoid the price spikes that occur when demand outstrips supply. Residential construction also creates much-needed jobs.

Putting in place the right planning and taxation frameworks will help lock in a steady stream of residential development that benefits homebuyers and the broader economy.


Nick Proud is residential executive director, Property Council of Australia and can be contacted here.

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