Australian building approvals plunged in September

WILLIAM WEST / AFP / Getty Images

Australian building approvals tumbled in September.

According to the ABS, approvals fell by 8.7% to 18,945 in seasonally adjusted terms, a much bigger decline than the 3.0% fall expected.

The decline left total approvals down 6.4% on the levels of a year earlier.

Private house approvals rose by 2.3% to 9,605 while dwellings excluding houses, largely apartments, plunged by 16.3% to 9,166.

From a year earlier, approvals for both private sector houses and dwellings ex-houses fell by 1.8% and 9.9% respectively.

Over the past year, there were approximately 237,932 dwellings approved, leaving it 1.4% below the all-time record peak of 241,331 seen in the 12 months to October 2015.

There were 117,668 houses approved over this period, the fewest seen since February 2015. That was outpaced by approvals for dwellings excluding houses which stood at 120,264.

It looks like the top for approvals in the current cycle may be in, if there was any doubt before today’s release. Still, they remain elevated compared to historic norms, pointing to a solid pipeline of construction activity in the years ahead.

While approvals plunged in numeric terms, the value of buildings approved skyrocketed during the month thanks to a surge in the value of non-residential buildings.

It jumped by 118.9% to $5.55 billion after falling in the previous two months, offsetting a decline in the value of residential approvals which fell by 4.4% to $6.3 billion.

The decline in the value of residential approvals was driven by eastern states with those in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland falling by 6%, 2.5% and 1.1% respectively.

By type of approval, the value of new residential dwellings fell by 4.6%, outpacing a smaller decline in alterations, additions and conversions of 2.2%.

The total value of all buildings approved rose by 29.9% to $11.84 billion.

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