2 Jun 2020

Consents for new homes fell steeply during lockdown

4:04 pm on 2 June 2020

The number of new homes consented in April has fallen sharply compared to the same time last year.

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Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Statistics New Zealand said April consents to build new homes dropped by 17 percent compared to April last year.

Just over 2160 homes were consented during that time. And in the 12 months to the end of April, 37,180 new homes were consented nationally.

It was the biggest percentage fall in consents compared to the same month in the previous year since July 2011.

April also marked a significant drop in the value of non-residential building consents, which fell to about $364 million.

Last year the average monthly value for non-residential building consents was about $622m, and April's figure is the lowest since January 2017.

The fall in new house consents came after a buoyant period, with consents to build new homes in the 12 months to the end of February setting a 45-year record for any 12 month period - at 37,882.

Statistics New Zealand said the Covid-19 alert level 4 lockdown from the end of March to near the end of April slowed plans to build, and the lodging and processing of consents.

It's spokesperson Dave Adair says there was still a lot of uncertaintly about the future supply of homes, following the virus.

"Typically, many homes are built within about a year of gaining consent, but these are unusual times and it will take some time to see if existing consented projects are completed or delayed."

The number of homes consented and the number completed typically varies greatly month to month as large projects are finished, such as townhouses and apartments.

Adair said the most valuable look at how many new houses were being built was a 12-month snapshot, so a truly accurate picture of how lockdown had affected house building - and whether the numbers would bounce back - would not be clear for some time.

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