Building consents slide 8.3% in January as apartment permits slip from records

New Zealand building consents for residential housing dropped 8.3 percent in January as the number of new apartments and retirement units dwindled from records in November and December.

New dwelling consents, including apartments, fell to a seasonally adjusted 1,969 in January from 2,147 a month earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand. Excluding apartments and units, which are typically volatile from month to month, seasonally adjusted consents slipped 1.3 percent to 1,747.

Annual residential issuance rose 26 percent to an unadjusted 21,616 in the year ended Jan. 31 from the same period a year earlier. Of that, 19,112 new houses received consents, up 23 percent on the year and 2,504 apartments were consented, up 56 percent.

Auckland and Christchurch continued to drive new issuance, with the country's two biggest cities experiencing bubbling property markets due to a lack of housing stock.

Rising property prices, particularly in Auckland and Christchurch, became a headache for the Reserve Bank last year, which was loathe to lift interest rates in response for fear of fuelling demand for an already elevated currency. Instead, the central bank imposed restrictions in October on the level of low-equity mortgage lending banks could undertake as a means to reduce the level of riskier loans.

Today's figures show the value of non-residential building consents rose 29 percent to $289 million in January from a year earlier, and were up an annual 8.9 percent to $4.24 billion. The value of all building consents rose 26 percent to $930 million in January from a year earlier, and was up 20 percent to $12.27 billion.

(BusinessDesk)

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