Building approvals rose 15.3 per cent to 16,383 units in March, seasonally adjusted, from an upwardly revised 14,208 units in February, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said on Wednesday. It was the highest number of monthly building approvals since October 2003 and the first rise in overall approvals since last December.In the year to March, building approvals were up 51.6 per cent.
The median market forecast was for building approvals to have risen 0.8 per cent in the month and 25.6 per cent in the year. Approvals for private sector other dwellings rose 59.9 per cent to 4,558 units in March, while private sector houses increased by 0.5 per cent to 9,779, the ABS said.
“It has been an unbelievable increase there,” JP Morgan economist Helen Kevans said. “Some of it is payback for previous months’ weakness. “Most of that increase has come in other dwellings so that it is in big developments.”
Ms Kevans said the other dwelling category, which includes flats, townhouses and non-residential buildings, was a volatile sector. “Other dwellings was up 60 per cent, so that it is likely to be a few multi-developments that were approved in the month.
“It could be attributed to a backlog of approvals but it is a bit unclear. “The general trend has been downward in recent months so we are not looking too much into the number.”