All records broken: new house consent data out

Author
Anne Gibson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 6 May 2021, 12:13PM
(Photo / George Novak)
(Photo / George Novak)

All records broken: new house consent data out

Author
Anne Gibson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 6 May 2021, 12:13PM

New Zealand has never had so many houses consented in any one period of time as now and the previous national record has just been smashed.

Finally, that magic 40,000 a year house barrier has been broken for the first time in nearly half a century.

Stats NZ said today 41,028 new homes were consented in the year to March 2021, eclipsing the February 1974 year's previous record of 40,225.

We're now in a golden period for new-housing construction, akin only to the era when big new suburbs like Auckland’s Glenfield were built.

All the Government moves to increase supply and relieve stress on the pressure-cooker housing sector have begun to pay off.

Michel Heselop, construction statistics manager, said: "Within 10 years the number of new homes consented annually has gone from the lowest point since the 1940s to an all-time record.

"The increased number of new homes consented in recent years has mostly been due to a rise in consents for higher density homes, such as townhouses. The number of stand-alone houses consented in this period has been relatively flat," he said.

But new homes consented per 1000 residents still below the 1970s peak.

After accounting for population size, the number of new homes consented in the year ended March 2021 is still below the peak in the 1970s, although it has been rising steadily from the lows seen around the time of the global financial crisis, Stats NZ said.

Just over eight new homes consented per 1000 residents in the year ended March, less than the record of 13.4 seen in the year ended December 1973.

The annual number of new homes consented in Auckland is at a record 17,495, accounting for nearly 43 per cent of all new homes.

Auckland has 1.7m residents, meaning it has 34 per cent of New Zealand's population.

Consents for multi-unit homes in Auckland rose sharply in the last two quarters of 2020 and have remained at high levels in the March 2021 quarter.

The monthly number of all New Zealand new homes consented in March 2021 was 4128, the highest for the series, surpassing the October 1973 figure of 4081.

This was driven by a record-breaking month for both stand-alone houses at 2438 and townhouses, flats, and units at 1243, although data for individual building types are only available from April 1990.

"The record numbers seen in March 2021 suggests that there is a large amount of residential work in the pipeline. The value of consents solely for new stand-alone houses topped $1 billion for the first time in a single month," Heslop said.

Satish Ranchhod, a Westpac senior economist, said interest rates were extremely low and there had been related large increases in house prices.

"We've also had regulatory changes in centres like Auckland that have allowed for increased densification. New Zealand also had very strong population growth in recent years, with home building failing to keep pace through much of the past decade," he said.

Today's result supports Westpac's expectations for very strong home building over the remainder of this and next year.

Longer-term, the outlook for construction was more clouded. The Government had announced a suite of housing policy changes recently that will dampen prices, though there may be some exemptions for new builds, he noted.

In addition, population growth had plummeted following the border closure.

"That means that the shortages that have built up in recent years are rapidly being eroded. And even when the borders do reopen, we don't expect population growth will return to the levels we saw prior to the Covid outbreak, with the Government now reviewing migration settings," Ranchhod said today.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff has previously decried the ugly side of construction in the city.

In 2019, Auckland Council officials showed off some of the city's worst streets as part of a blitz aimed at cleaning up sites and ending commonplace filthy environmental practices.

Flat Bush was identified as one area of stand-alone homes where filthy practices were common.