Approvals for the construction of new homes were up 22.2 per cent over the year to November, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. Local councils had approved the construction of 16,396 new homes in November.
Private sector house approvals, however, rose six per cent. "It was the biggest increase we've seen in the past year," National Australia Bank senior economist Spiros Papadopoulos said. "It's an encouraging sign, given most of the gains in approvals had been in private apartments in recent months. "Per dwelling, one house will generate more jobs than one apartment. A six per cent increase in housing approvals is going to be a lot better for economic recovery and for jobs and spending than a six per cent increase in apartments. "That (the figures) would give the Reserve Bank a bit more confidence that we'll start to see some better dwelling investment figures coming through and that will help support the investment outlook over the next year or two."
HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said the data showed non-mining sectors were strengthening, helping the economy to rebalance. "The rise in building approvals over the year is expected to start to flow through to the housing construction numbers and support gross domestic product growth in coming quarters," Mr Bloxham said. "The longer lag than usual between the rise in approvals and a pick-up in construction may reflect that much of the growth in approvals over the past year has been in medium-density dwellings (including apartments) which generally take longer to complete than detached houses.