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Boost to consents not likely to make a difference yet

A boost in the number of housing consents issued has been described as "less than a drop in the bucket" compared to what Auckland needs.

The latest Stats NZ figures show the residential construction sector rebounded in August, with the highest number of seasonally-adjusted consents since mid-2004.

Total consents were up 12 per cent compared to the same time a year earlier, boosted by a spike in Auckland.

There were 346 apartment consents for the month pushing the annual total to 2197 in Auckland.

"Auckland's building consent statistics are quite volatile because of the high proportion of apartments. Looking at the longer-term picture, Auckland has consented an average of more than 850 new homes a month over the past year," construction statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said.

Just over 10,000 new homes were consented in Auckland region in the August 2017 year. This compares with a peak of 12,937 new homes consented in the June 2004 year, the highest number since the series began in 1991.

Infometrics chief forecaster Gareth Kiernan said there was a significant lag between consents being issued and properties being built. He said his firm would usually assume five months on average but in some parts of the country it was taking up to a year, on average.

In Wellington, retirement unit consents jumped due to Bupa's $47 million retirement village in Crofton Downs.

Kiernan said construction was still hamstrung by capacity constraints limiting the ability to build which, when combined with tight lending criteria and house prices levelling off, had stymied demand.

Canterbury's residential rebuild is over, the new stats show.

New dwelling consents in the region for the three months to August fell 12 per cent compared to a year before – the 13th straight decrease.

Outside Auckland and Canterbury, consents were up 14 per cent nationally compared to a year earlier. Northland, at 13 per cent, Wellington, at 26 per cent, and Otago, at 28 per cent all had strong gains.

Kiernan said the construction boost was unlikely to have an effect on prices, particularly in Auckland. "The annual total is still well below what is needed to keep up with population growth. This is not even a drop in a bucket. It's less than that, really."

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