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Upward trend in residential building

Estimate of New Dwelling Units - May 1999

The estimated number of new dwellings authorised in May 1999 was 2,360, the second highest total since September 1997. The underlying trend for the number of new dwellings authorised has been increasing for nine months now, following a dramatic decline from the end of 1997 and through most of 1998.

Low interest rates appear to be the likely cause of the upturn in residential building activity. Throughout 1998 most monthly totals were below 1,700. Monthly totals in 1999 have shown a substantial increase over those levels, with three successive months recording more than 2,200 authorisations for new dwellings. Consistently high totals such as those recorded in recent months have not been seen since the building boom in the 1970s which was also a period of low mortgage interest rates.

A number of consents for apartments were recorded in North Shore City, Waitakere, Auckland and Manukau, resulting in higher than average totals in those areas. Christchurch has recorded its highest total since August 1997, due to a significant increase in the number of consents for single houses and small blocks of units.

Growth in the residential sector of the building industry, not currently evident in non-residential building, appears consistent with a pattern of economic recovery based on domestic consumption, as do other statistics.

Ian Ewing
Deputy Government Statistician

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