Building approvals rose by a seasonally adjusted 3.3 per cent in September, mainly boosted by a jump in construction activity for apartments in Victoria.
The increase was slightly lower than market expectations for a 3.8 per cent increase.
Approvals for private sector houses were down by 9,266 or 2.7 per cent in the month, taking the quarterly decline to five per cent.
The ‘other dwellings’ category, which includes apartment blocks and townhouses, rose by 7,512 or 9.2 per cent, helping recover some of the 20 per cent decline over the previous two months.
The gain was on the back of a 30.5 per cent increase in Victoria, although other major states recorded declines, with NSW down 6.8 per cent and Queensland down 10.5 per cent.
‘Overall the September report still shows a material underlying weakening in approvals although there remains uncertainty around high rise activity,’ Westpac economist Matthew Hassan said.
Australia’s housing market has been trending lower with prices for residential property beginning to fall and auction rating sliding amid concerns that it could hit economic growth.
Sydney and Melbourne have so far borne the brunt of decline in house prices, with analysts warning of price falls of 15 to 20 per cent from peak to trough.
Over the 12 months to September, building approvals are now down 14.1 per cent, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.
‘With the number of dwellings under construction still at elevated levels, our expectation is for aggregate approval volumes growth to continue to move lower in 2019,’ JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy said.
‘The adjustment (is) likely to be concentrated in apartments given this is where the looming supply expansion is largest.’