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Residential construction down in December

Preliminary ABS figures indicate that the recovery in residential construction activity took a backwards step in the December quarter of 2013 according to the Housing Industry Association. Source: Timberbiz

“The overall value of residential construction work done on new dwellings declined by 2.5% in the final quarter of 2013.

“We are seeing good things across a number of leading indicators, but today’s data reaffirms our view that the speed and strength of the recovery in residential building has been overstated in some forums,” said HIA Economist, Geordan Murray.

“The improved levels of activity we have seen to date have been driven almost entirely by the multi-unit segment.

“While this is an increasingly significant component of the housing mix, a true recovery in new home building requires a consistent and aligned increase in detached homes as well as multi-units.

“Clearly, the need for policy reform to support housing supply remains a priority if housing is to make the expected contribution to economic growth.”

The value of work done on new detached homes declined by 0.9% in the December quarter of 2013 to a level that is 5.1% below that of a year earlier.

The value of work done on multi-unit construction declined by 4.9% in the December quarter of 2013 although remained 5.9% above the level recorded in the December quarter of 2012.

“On a more positive note, it is encouraging to see some improvement in the renovations sector,” said Murray.

“Activity in this part of the market had dropped to a decade low in the middle of 2012. It appears that low interest rates and rising home prices are providing a much needed boost to demand in this segment.”

The value of work done on renovations increased by 3.2% during the quarter but remains 0.4% below the level recorded in the corresponding period last year.