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NZ building consents fall for a second month in January, housing permits drop

New Zealand residential building consents declined for a second month in January, with new housing permits falling at their sharpest pace since August.

Seasonally adjusted dwelling consents, including apartments and retirement units, fell 3.8 percent to 2,108 in January from a month earlier, adding to the 2.3 percent decline in December, according to Statistics New Zealand. Stripping out apartments, housing consents fell 7.5 percent to 1,719, the first decline in four months. On an unadjusted basis, new apartment permits more than doubled in January to 314, for an annual gain of 39 percent to 3,481, while housing consents fell 6.8 percent to 1,389 for an annual increase of 11 percent to 21,295.

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler this week told policymakers the nation's biggest city has a shortfall of between 15,000 and 20,000 properties to meet population growth, and the 7,500 annual consents for new building permits is lagging behind the 10,000 it needs to address the shortage. While steps had been taken to address through the introduction of special housing areas, which fast-track consent processes, more could be done in restrictions limiting building in the inner-city, he said.

Today's figures show Auckland consents rose 11 percent to 482 in January from the same month a year earlier, with new apartments accounting for most of the increase. New Canterbury permits fell 10 percent to 467, as the rebuild of Christchurch shifts its focus to commercial activity.

The value of non-residential building work permitted rose 22 percent to $351 million in January from the same month a year earlier, for an annual increase of 21 percent to $5.16 billion.