Building approvals highest since 2017

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Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics and Business Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)

 

The number of building approvals granted soared by 17.4 per cent in March, fuelled by a massive increase in apartment commitments.

The number of private sector houses approved edged up 0.1 per cent to 14,117 to a new record high and buoyed by the federal government’s HomeBuilder program that finished in March.

House approvals were 60.9 per cent higher than a year earlier.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said total approvals rose 17.4 per cent to 23,176 in March, the second highest on record and only exceeded by the November 2017 result.

This was driven by a 63.6 per cent jump to 8563 in the volatile ‘private sector dwelling excluding houses’ component of the report released on Wednesday.

Other figures show Australia’s construction industry continues to grow at close to record highs as a result of strong home building.

While the Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association performance of construction index eased 2.7 points in April, at 59.1 it indicates the sector remains comfortably in expansion territory.

The index reached a record high in March.

“Australia’s construction sector continued to power ahead in April led by house building and engineering construction,” Ai Group head of policy Peter Burn said.

“Across the industry, employment and new orders were both higher in April.”

HIA economist Tom Devitt said the uptake of the Morrison government’s HomeBuilder scheme had beaten all expectations.

The HomeBuilder program ended in March, but the government has since extended the deadline to begin construction by an additional 12 months.

“The extension of HomeBuilder’s commencement deadlines means builders will be able to meet much more of this record demand over the coming year and fewer home buyers will have to suffer the disappointment of cancellation due to capacity constraints,” Mr Devitt said.

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