Approvals for the construction of new homes rose 2.5 per cent in January, ending a three-month run of declines.
Approvals for private sector houses were up 2.1 per cent in the month in seasonally adjusted terms, while the ‘other dwellings’ category, which includes apartment blocks and townhouses, rose 2.7 per cent.
Over the 12 months to January, total building approvals for dwellings fell 28.6 per cent to 14,395 from 20,166 a year ago, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.
‘The trend for the total dwelling approvals series has steadily declined over the past year,’ ABS director of construction statistics Justin Lokhorst said.
‘The series is now at its lowest level since May 2013.’
January’s rebound was driven by a 28.8 per cent lift in WA, 15.4 per cent in Tasmania and 12.0 per cent in NSW.
But the value of total residential building work fell 2.0 per cent to $5.21 billion for a fourth straight monthly decline.
In trend terms, it has fallen 12 months in a row.
‘The trend in both is undeniably negative, continuing to point to a prospective decline in dwelling investment once the pipeline of work is completed,’ NAB economist David de Garis said.
‘Trend declines are evident across most states.’
The yearly decline in approvals was most precipitous in the ‘other dwellings’ category, which includes the apartment sector particularly exposed to tighter overall credit and restrictions on investor and interest-only lending.
Approvals for private sector dwellings excluding houses have slumped 51 per cent over a year.
The monthly rebound wasn’t enough to bolster the Australian dollar, which fell a fifth of a US cent to 70.80 US cents shortly after the release of the data at 1130 AEST.