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February building approvals: Mixed trends in housing market

No counterweight to rising house prices from February’s building approvals data as a big drop in apartments – particularly in Queensland – offset a solid rise in approvals for private houses.

After a 2.5% slide in January, total approvals fell 1.9% in February, – to near 12 year lows – despite the rise in for approvals of private houses.

Total approvals of 12,520 were the lowest since August 2012. At 7,593, the number of private houses approved was also the lowest since August 2012. The 3,771 none private dwelling approvals was the lowest since early 2012.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said on Thursday the fall in approvals was driven by another big drop in approved apartment projects – which in many cases related to delays by local government bodies in approving them.

Daniel Rossi, ABS head of construction statistics, said: “Approvals for private sector dwellings excluding houses fell 24.9 per cent in February in seasonally adjusted terms, driven by a fall in the number of approved large apartment projects.”

“Approvals for private houses rose 10.7 per cent in February,” he said with all states seeing a rise in the number of approvals in this category.

 Western Australia saw a 20.7% jump, NSW, 17%, Victoria, more than 12% while smaller rises were seen in Queensland (3.4%), and South Australia (2.0%).

The ABS said the fall in apartment approvals was noticeable in Queensland where total dwelling approvals fell 28.5%.

 Bur rises were recorded in Tasmania (39.3 %- from a very small base), New South Wales (23.4%), South Australia (15.4%), Victoria (2.1%), and Western Australia (0.9%).

The value of total building approved fell 16.5%, following a 14.5% rise in January. 

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