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NZ building consents fall for a third month in February

31 Mar 15

New Zealand residential building consents declined for a third month in February, as the pace of new home building slowed.

Seasonally adjusted dwelling consents, including apartments and retirement units, dropped 6.3 percent to 1,953 in February from a month earlier, accelerating from the 5.6 decline in January, according to Statistics New Zealand. Stripping out apartments, housing consents declined for the second consecutive month, down 1.4 percent to 1,685.

On an unadjusted basis, new apartment permits increased 142 percent to 160 from the same month the previous year, while clocking an annual gain of 47 percent to 3,575 approved in the year through to February. Housing consents dropped 6.1 percent to 1,598 from February a year earlier, for an annual increase of 9.1 percent to 21,191.

"The trend for new dwellings has more than doubled since March 2011," business indicators manager Neil Kelly said. "But it is now showing signs of decreasing after generally increasing for almost four years."

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler last month warned 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. The central bank is concerned that an overheated property market could cause a house price bubble and lead to financial instability.

Today's figures show that Auckland consents rose 14 percent to 528 in February from the same month a year earlier. New consents for Canterbury fell 2.5 percent to 517, as the rebuild of Christchurch shifts its focus to commercial activity.

The value of residential building work permitted rose 19 percent to $769 million in February from the previous month.

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