New homes down 3.0%, alterations and additions up

Australia’s residential dwelling approvals continued their gradual trend decline in November, as 4+ storey apartment approvals continue to fall. In the year-ended November 2016, total approvals fell 3.0%, to 229,008 dwellings, with approvals of Free-standing houses the brightest spot in the market.

The chart below shows total residential dwelling approvals for the last four years. Overall, it displays the peak in dwelling approvals and the relatively long and uncommon plateau that has been experienced over the last two years. However, the chart also shows that on a year-end basis, approvals have begun to decline.


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

In November 2016, a total of 10,173 house approvals were recorded, up 4.2% on November 2015. On a year-end basis, house approvals totaled 116,938 dwellings, down just 0.7% on the prior year. 

This is an important trend in the housing market because as the total declines, the proportional representation of free-standing dwellings is rising. In the year-ended November 2016, houses accounted for 51.1% of all approvals, up from 50.0% for the prior year. 

This can be seen in the chart below, in the blue bars. The chart also shows the declining influence of the 4+ storey apartment complexes, which have declined proportionally from 32.4% a year ago, to 30.7% for the year-ended November 2016.


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

The data demonstrates that the apartment boom is coming to an end, but that traditional houses are holding ground.

At the same time as Australians are pulling back on building new dwellings, they are spending an increasing amount renovating and extending their existing holdings. As the quarterly data displayed in the chart below shows, the value of expenditure in alterations and additions continues to expand.


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

Although expenditure in the September Quarter was down 0.6% on the June Quarter, year-end expenditure rose to AUD8.454 billion, up 6.5% on the year prior, almost triple the headline inflation rate.

Housing data and the impulses that drive expenditure on homes of all types are complex and much-debated matters. There may be no exact relationship, but it is possible that slowing housing approvals and increased expenditure on alterations and additions are related. In addition, as the next item in Statistics Count discusses, the complexities of investor loans and their interaction with other housing data also deserves attention.