Apartments continue to dominate

Despite continuing to show signs of slowing and operating under increasing credit constraints driven by regulators, Australia’s residential dwelling approvals grew again, to 223,311 dwellings for the year-ended August 2015. Although there was growth in free-standing dwellings (houses), the modest month-on-month growth of 0.3% was driven, unsurprisingly, by apartments of four or more storeys.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, approvals for free-standing dwellings totaled 115,576 dwellings for the year-ended August 2015. This was a rise of 4.1% on the prior year and accounted for 51.9% of total approvals over the period. As the chart below shows, despite the modest growth, free-standing dwellings are the base upon which housing approvals are continuing to grow, but are no longer as dominant as was once the case.


To go straight to the dashboard and take a closer look at the data, click here.

Although it is becoming a well-worn story, it is important to note that growth in dwelling approvals is being driven largely by apartments and especially by the significant expansion of apartments of 4+ storeys in major capital cities. For the year-ended August 2015, approvals of these taller buildings expanded 36.3% on the prior year, reaching 68,217 separate dwellings.

Although town-houses of 2+ storeys continue to exhibit growth, as the chart below shows, amongst apartments, all the emphasis is on the larger buildings.


To go straight to the dashboard and take a closer look at the data, click here.

As the housing habits of Australians continue to change away from free-standing houses and towards apartments, all of the action is in the taller apartments. What the data does not show, but has been discussed previously in Statistics Count, is the limited breakdown for apartments 4+ storey. Greater detail distinguish between 4 to 8 storey, 9 to 12 storey and larger apartment buildings would be beneficial.

At present the data is failing to identify the significant volume of ‘urban infill’ and ‘new centre’ apartment building that arises in the nation’s sprawling suburbs and satellite towns and cities. Many of these apartment buildings are more than 4 storeys high, but few are taller than 12 storeys.

The other interesting question is when, in aggregate, the different forms of flats and apartments will overtake free-standing dwellings as the dominant housing type in Australia.