Dwelling approvals up 4% in July: Westpac's Matthew Hassan

Dwelling approvals up 4% in July: Westpac's Matthew Hassan
Dwelling approvals up 4% in July: Westpac's Matthew Hassan


Approvals rose 4% in July, coming in a touch above Westpac and the consensus forecast of a 3% rise.

A partial rebound was widely recovered after last months’ report showed a sharp fall in high-rise approvals driving an 8.2% drop overall.

That previous fall has been pared back to just –5.2% meaning approvals are only down 1.2% over the two months combined and 4.7% below their March peak. 

Volatility continues to affect much of the survey detail making trends difficult to pinpoint. 

The dwelling type breakdown shows the dominance of ‘high rise’ approvals – private ‘unit’ approvals rose 6.1%, coming off a 14% drop in Jun (previously estimated as –20%) with the detail suggesting all of the change reflecting high rise approvals (low-mid rise approvals look to be down a touch in the month). Private sector house approvals were down 3%mth but were coming off a 3.7% rise in June, quite a strong increase for this more stable segment. 

The state breakdown shows the rebound concentrated in NSW which saw a big 27% jump in the month. Vic approvals rose 8.3% with other states recording declines – notably, approvals in WA are now down 30%yr.

The picture ex high rise suggests approvals suggests a flattening uptrend in NSW and Qld and downtrends in Vic and WA. 

The headline and revision was more positive than expected but much of this appears to relate to the size of volatility in the high rise segment with ex-high rise approvals showing conditions are more mixed.

Stepping back from the month to month variations, approvals have clearly passed their peak but the degree to which conditions are now softening remains unclear.  

Private houses  –3%mth,    –2.2%yr   
Private 'units'    6.1%mth,    25.2%yr                               

NSW     27.1%mth,      67.7%yr 
Vic       8.3%mth,        15.6%yr        
Qld       –17.2%mth,      2.2%yr      
WA       –1.1%mth,    –29.9%yr     
SA        –8.1%mth,    –11.6%yr                            

Alteration & additions^   –1.3%mth,    12%yr   
Non-residential^             12.2%mth,    14.6%yr      
^ value               



For the AUD
The Aussie rose from lows of 0.7102 in the Australia morning. It touched 0.7133, popping up around 5 pips, with the upside surprise in building approvals. However net exports, which was released at the same time, showed a larger detraction from GDP than expected and the current account deficit was larger than forecast. This brought AUD/USD to trade back down towards 0.7105.

Matthew Hassan is senior economist with Westpac.

Home Building Approval


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