For the first time ever, the past year has seen more units than houses approved in Australia

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Bucking expectations for a modest decline, Australian building approvals continued to rip higher in October, rising 3.9% to 19,532. The increase left approvals up 12.3% from a year earlier, down on the 22% increase registered in the year to September.

Strength in multi dwelling approvals, up 10.1% to 10,218, more than offset weakness in freestanding housing approvals which fell 2.1% to 9,435. From a year earlier multi-dwelling approvals increased by 30.2%, completely overshadowing a 2.3% decline in those for freestanding houses.

In what is a landmark moment for Australia’s residential housing market, over the past 12 months the number of multi-dwellings approved increased to 117,072, topping the 116,111 registered for freestanding houses.

As the chart below reveals, this is the first time on record that multi-dwelling approvals outnumbered those for freestanding houses over a 12 month period.

The value of total building approved rose 6.4% in October after falling for two months. The value of residential building increased by 9.8% after falling for two months while the value of non-residential building slid 1.0%, the third decline in a row.

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