Building approvals in Australia rose in September, ABS data shows

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Sydney residents walk past a newly-completed apartment development in Sydney's inner-city suburb of Zetland, June 24, 2015.
Sydney residents walk past a newly-completed apartment development in Sydney's inner-city suburb of Zetland, June 24, 2015. Reuters/Jason Reed

Approvals for the construction of new homes in Australia jumped to a seven-month high in September as housing remains a key element in the nation’s economy. The growth is driven by a rise in the number of green-lit apartments.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that building approvals rose 1.5 percent month on month in September. Approvals for private dwellings, mostly apartments, jumped 2.6 percent, while data for private houses are 0.6 percent higher.

Approvals to build new homes rose 1.5 percent last month, beating market expectations of a 1.0 percent decline. Approvals for private sector houses jumped by 9,867, or 0.6 percent.

The “other dwellings” category includes apartment blocks and townhouses. Permits for this category amount to 8,754, or 2.6 percent higher.

Thursday’s data shows a jump in approvals in some states. In New South Wales for instance, monthly approval jumped 10.7 percent. Western Australia saw a 27.1 percent increase, 16.5 percent in Tasmania and 6.6 percent in South Australia.

On the other hand, Victoria saw a 2.0 percent drop. Queensland approvals also fell 17.0 percent.

Capital Economics chief economist Paul Dales said that growth was an encouraging sign for actual building activity in the fourth quarter. The latest figures come amid signs of a gradual easing in the country’s housing boom in recent months.

St George Bank senior economist Janu Chan said the new data indicated period of stabilisation in building approvals. "The recent uptick in approvals suggests that the potential drag on economic growth from a downturn in residential construction could be less than feared," she said, according to SBS.

The growth in September provides support to the view that the dip in dwelling approvals is most likely over, according to ANZ economist David Plank. "The recent trend is clearly up, which means the downturn looks to be have been much shallower than previous downturns," he said.

Meanwhile, the best homes in Australia were recognised at the recent National Architecture Awards in Canberra. Among the winners were a contemporary concrete beach home, a rainforest house and a Defence Housing Australia project.

Melbourne projects were recognised with national commendations - the Rose House by Baracco+Wright Architects in Fitzroy North and the Dark Horse in Brunswick East by Architecture Architecture. Queensland projects, the Mitti Street House and Cape Tribulation House also scored New Home National Awards, while the People’s Choice Award was awarded to Tent House by Sparks Architects.

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