Housing recovery lost momentum in December

WHAT had been a modest recovery in ABS building approvals lost momentum in late 2012, said the Housing Industry Association.

"Today's update provides little additional insight into prospective new home building activity in 2013," said HIA Chief Economist, Harley Dale.

"It remains the case that any signs of improvement in building approvals remain patchy in terms of both geographic location and type of dwelling."

Total seasonally adjusted building approvals fell by 4.4 per cent in the month of December 2012, reflecting a decline in both detached houses (-3.4 per cent) and 'other dwellings' (-5.7 per cent).

"It is encouraging to see that despite the monthly dip in December, approvals for other dwellings increased by 12.3 per cent in the December 2012 quarter," said Mr Dale.

"Conversely, it is disappointing that detached house approvals continued to under-perform in late 2012, falling by 1.6 per cent in the December quarter.

"It is not possible to call a new home building recovery without evidence of a sustained improvement in this segment of the market."

"Interest rates may be low and in need of heading lower, but the new home building sector still faces tight credit conditions together with excessive and inefficient levels of taxation and regulation.

"From the Federal level down, clear strategies and policies are required to address these avoidable cost imposts on a sector that needs to be a key driver of Australia's economic growth."

In December 2012, total seasonally adjusted building approvals increased in

  • Queensland (+7.9 percent),
  • South Australia (+1.7 per cent), and
  • Western Australia (+1.3 per cent).

Approvals fell in

  • New South Wales (-1.3 per cent),
  • Victoria (-12.3 per cent), and
  • Tasmania (-21.7 per cent).

In trend terms building approvals in December increased in both the Australian Capital Territory (+22.5 per cent) and the Northern Territory (+4.5 per cent).