Building approvals fell for a third straight month in April in seasonally adjusted terms, as approvals of high-rise apartments slumped in NSW and Queensland.
The national 14 per cent decline in private apartment approvals coincided with a 0.3 per cent decline in approvals of privately owned new standalone dwellings, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.
Overall approvals fell 5.6 per cent to 14931 dwellings, down from a revised figure of 15812 in March .
The house-building industry put a brave face on the figures.
“The monthly volume of building approvals in April 2014, continued to recede from the decade high achieved back in January, although with close to 15,000 dwellings approved in the month it is still a very positive result,” said Housing Industry Association economist Geordan Murray.
One bit of good news came from detached houses. The seasonally adjusted total of 9387detached houses approved in April – while little changed from the month before – was a 16.1 per cent increase on the 8086 standalone dwellings approved a year earlier.
The overall figures marked a 1.1 per cent rise on the 14765 approved a year ago. April’s 5545 apartment approvals marked a 16.9 per cent drop from the same month a year ago, when 6679 were approved.
The biggest declines came in NSW, where dwelling approvals fell a seasonally adjusted 22.8 per cent after a 6.5 per cent rise in March.
In non-adjusted terms, the number of approvals for apartments in blocks of four storeys or greater more than halved to 958 in April from 2206 in March – well below the per-month average of 1694 approvals the state has clocked up over the past 12 months.
Approvals of standalone houses in NSW slipped 12 per cent to 1651.
Queensland, which suffered a 20.3 per cent overall fall in dwelling approvals – its third straight month of decline – also suffered a slump in apartment approvals as the number of high-rise dwellings fell by almost three-quarters, to 145 from 539 in March.
It was Queensland’s lowest number since February last year, when just 135 high-rise apartments were approved. The average monthly approval figure over the past year has been 649.
In Victoria, approvals rose 14.9 per cent after a 12.9 per cent dip in March. Approvals of apartment buildings of four storeys or more also surged, nearly doubling to 1321 from 710 in March, in non-adjusted terms. Apartment approvals in Victoria have averaged 1047 a month for the past 12 months.
Approvals of standalone houses were little changed at 2541.
Approvals also returned to positive territory in WA, up 4.4 per cent after a 9.2 per cent decline, and marked a second month of increase in SA. In original, non-seasonally adjusted terms, approvals rose 8.2 per cent in NT and sank 28.8 per cent in ACT.
“The slight cooling in the rapid rise in approvals in recent months sets the scene for a more sustainable upswing without risking input cost inflation,” said Master Builders Australia chief economist Peter Jones.