There was a big jump in the number of dwelling consents issued in Auckland last month, suggesting the government and Auckland Council's attempts to increase the supply of new homes in the region may finally be starting to get some traction.
Consents were issued for 912 new homes in Auckland in April, up 20.7% compared to the 756 issued in March and up 30.9% compared to the 697 issued in April last year.
It was the third consecutive month that new dwelling consents have risen strongly in Auckland, suggesting attempts to free up land for housing and speed up the consenting process may be starting to produce tangible results.
Around half of the new consents issued in Auckland were for apartments and at the national level, the number of apartment consents issued last month was at a seven year high.
Nationally, 2112 new dwelling consents were issued in April, down form the 2271 issued in March but up slightly from the 2082 issued in April last year.
In Canterbury consents dropped to their lowest level in more than a year, with 427 new dwelling consents issued in April compared with 588 in March and 554 in April last year.
In Wellington only 120 new dwelling consents were issued in April, down from 204 in March and 149 in April last year.
The Waikato held on to recent gains with 220 consents issued in April compared with 219 in March and 261 in April last year. and in the Bay of Plenty, 118 consents were issued, down from 134 in March but up on the 89 issued in April last year.
However although the rise in dwelling consents issued in Auckland will be welcome news for people looking to buy a home, neither the council nor the government can afford to ease back on the housing accelerator.
With population from record migration levels putting ongoing pressure on housing and other infrastructure in the region, it is estimated that 13,000 new homes a year needed in Auckland just to keep pace with rising demand.
Even though the number of new consents issued in April was up strongly, it is still not enough to meet current demand and well short of the numbers required to meet the backlog of demand that has pushed up house prices in the region to what many believe are unsustainable levels.
"Going forward, Auckland requires a further increase in the number of dwellings constructed to keep up with population growth and existing under supply," ASB senior economist Jane Turner said in a Quickview newsletter about the latest consent figures.
"Given the rising cost of land in Auckland, this lift in housing construction is more likely to come through denser housing solutions such as townhouses and apartments," she said.
The total value of residential building work consented throughout New Zealand in the year to April $8 billion, up from $7.01 billion in the year to April 2014 and $5.43 billion in the year to April 2013.
There has also been strong growth in non-residential building consents issued, which rose to $5.28 billion in the 12 months to April compared with $4.5 billion the previous 12 months.
Consents for $1.18 billion of new office buildings were issued in the 12 months to April, followed by $797 million of educational buildings, $727 million of retail premises, $605 million of storage buildings such as warehouses, $565 million of factories and other industrial buildings, $453 million of hospitals and related services buildings and $403 million of social and cultural facilities.
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