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eTradesman.com.au - Australia's Online Tradesman Directory

Unit Volatility Masks Housing Weakness

Master Builders Australia, the peak body for the building and construction industry, calls on the Reserve Bank to keep interest rates on hold despite a headline bounce in home building approvals. Mr Peter Jones, MBA’s Chief Economist, said “The rise in February reflects a spike in the volatile unit and apartment sector and should not be interpreted as a reversal in the negative trend for housing.” He said “The other dwellings sector is still a massive 25 per cent down on its 2003 peak and with residential building still facing strong headwinds recovery is not expected to move into a sustainable upturn until the second half of the year.” “Any extended cyclical downturn runs the risk of creating major demand supply imbalances as many parts of Australia are now underbuilding relative to population needs.” He said “Approvals of other dwellings (units and townhouses) will continue to stay weak until prospects for capital gain improve and interest rate speculation dies down.” “The total number of dwelling units approved, seasonally adjusted, rose by 10.6 per cent to 13,418 units in February, to be 10.0 per cent higher than the same month in the previous year.” “Private sector house approvals fell by 0.3 per cent to 8,324, to be down 5.1 per cent on the same month last year.” “The more volatile private sector ‘other dwellings’ (apartments and townhouses), rose by 31.5 per cent in February, to be 40.2 per cent higher than in February 2006.” “The value of alterations and additions rose 1.8 per cent to $463 million in February, and the value of non-residential building approvals fell 16.6 per cent to $2,269 million.” Source: Master Builders Association Media Relations<-i>
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