Building activity back on the upswing

by Miklos Bolza13 Apr 2017
The latest building activity figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that the final quarter of 2016 finished the year off in a reasonably strong fashion.

While new dwelling starts reached a record high in the March quarter of last year, growth eased back during the middle parts of 2016 only to rebound slightly in the final quarter, said Geordan Murray, economist at the Housing Industry Association (HIA).

“In aggregate, the total number of commencements increased by 0.3% in the quarter which was 0.8% up on a year earlier,” he said.

“Below the aggregate, detached dwellings commencements fell by 3.4% during the quarter but this was offset by a 4.4% increase in multi-unit commencements.”

In seasonally adjusted terms, a total of 57,043 new dwellings were commenced during the December quarter last year. This means a total of 231,889 new dwellings were started across Australia in 2016, including 116,857 detached dwellings (28,690 over the quarter) and 115,042 ‘other’ dwellings (28,353 for the quarter).

“While the strong level of activity at a national level continues to paints a rosy picture for the state of play in the sector, the disparities between states continue to play out,” Murray said.
“Amongst the larger states, Victoria and South Australia were the only two states to post an increase in dwelling commencements during the December 2016 quarter, by 7.6% and 2.8%, respectively.”

Commencements in both the ACT and the Northern Territory are back on the way up after some softer results in the third quarter.

In the ACT, an increase in multi-unit commencements pushed the territory’s total to 2,122 – the strongest quarter on record. This contrasted with the NT in which the surge was mostly due to higher numbers of detached dwelling commencements.

“Elsewhere, commencements declined by 0.2% during the quarter in New South Wales, by 5.3% in Tasmania and by 8.0% in Western Australia,” Murray said.

“The weakest result was recorded in Queensland where a substantial decline in multi-unit commencements contributed to an overall decline in commencements of 19.3% during the quarter.”

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