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New Home Consent Numbers Bounce Back In May

The number of new homes consented in May 2020 increased 64 percent from April, the largest monthly change since February 1972, Stats NZ said today.

In May 2020 the number of new homes consented was 3,554, the highest number since May 2019 when 3,724 were consented. This month’s increase comes after a low monthly number of 2,168 in April.

When accounting for seasonality the increase from April to May 2020 was 36 percent, following a fall of 9.9 percent in April.

“Although monthly home consent numbers can be influenced by the timing of large multi-dwelling projects, both the actual and seasonally adjusted numbers in May show a strong bounceback from a weak April month,” acting construction indicators manager Dave Adair said.

The strong May month was partly driven by consents for 1,926 new stand-alone houses, which is up 42 percent from April, and just over 16 percent when accounting for seasonality. The seasonally adjusted increase in stand-alone houses is the biggest monthly increase since December 2002. The other driving factor for May’s increase is the record 959 new townhouses, flats, and units consented since the series started in April 1990.

COVID-19 and building consents

“Building consent numbers are more uncertain at the moment, coming from many underlying factors, as well as the effects of COVID-19 and the implications councils may have faced due to the lockdown in April,” Mr Adair said.

“This month’s statistics can also include consents submitted several weeks or months before, so the true effects of COVID-19 may only be seen several months down the line.”

A clearer picture of the impact of COVID-19 on the construction industry will be provided by 'Value of building work put in place' results in the coming quarters. This series measures work actually completed, rather than consents which indicate an intention to build. The data may include insights into delays, cancellations, and the total value of work put in place.

Increase in monthly value of non-residential consents

The monthly value of non-residential consents was $553 million in May 2020, up from $364 million in April.

The annual value of non-residential consents fell 13 percent in May 2020 from the year ended May 2019 to $6.5 billion. This drop follows several years of increases in year ended May values.

Most of the non-residential categories experienced decreases in the value of consents between the year ended May figures from 2019 to 2020, except for hostels, boarding houses, and prisons; hotels, motels, and other short-term accommodation; and hospitals, nursing homes, and other health buildings.

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