Australia

Nation’s building number improve

Building approvals are recovering from the economic slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with dwelling numbers bouncing back from June’s eight-year low. Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show home building rose 12 per cent in July.“The July results likely reflect improved consumer sentiment in May on the back of falling COVID-19 cases…

Building approvals are recovering from the economic slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with dwelling numbers bouncing back from June’s eight-year low.

Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show home building rose 12 per cent in July.

“The July results likely reflect improved consumer sentiment in May on the back of falling COVID-19 cases and easing of restrictions,” ABS director of construction statistics Daniel Rossi said.

However, the value of total buildings approved fell 3.9 per cent over the month, and non-residential building total value fell 19.8 per cent – its lowest level since January 2018.

Private sector dwellings excluding houses rose 22.7 per cent, while private sector houses had its strongest month since January 2014, rising 8.5 per cent.

Tasmania made the strongest gains with dwelling approvals rising 50 per cent, while New South Wales rose 32 per cent.

Victoria’s approvals increased by 9.3 per cent and Queensland’s lifted 7.7 per cent.

South Australia and Western Australia both recorded decreases, falling 10.5 per cent and 8.3 per cent respectively.

Also on Tuesday, the CoreLogic Home Value Index of national home prices showed the fourth successive month of falls, down 0.4 per cent in August but still up 5.8 per cent over the year.

In capital cities, prices eased by 0.5 per cent but were 6.3 per cent higher over the year.

“Price weakness was most pronounced in the larger virus-affected Melbourne and Sydney housing markets, exceeding solid price gains across the relatively virus ‘free’ capital cities of Canberra and Darwin,” CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman said.

“Prices in Hobart, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane all remained stable.”

Regional home prices were flat in August but up 4 per cent on the year.

Mr Felsman said the figures highlighted the increasing divergence between virus hot spots and the rest of the country.

“It certainly appears that ‘lifestyle’ regions could stand to benefit from a potential virus-induced exit of people from big cities – encouraged by changing working arrangements – allowing them to work from home,” he said.

Home prices hit all-time highs in 11 SA4 (statistical area level four) regions, including the ACT, Adelaide-South and Brisbane-East in August.

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