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Has the building approvals peak passed?

By Kevin Kelly

The residential building boom of last year may now be a thing of the past, as the latest data suggests a slowdown in the number of greenlit projects. Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show a 1.9 per cent fall in building approvals in November 2015, marking the eighth monthly decline in a row.

Western Australia was one state particularly hard hit by the fall, posting a 4.5 per cent decline on the previous month's levels. This is unlikely to mean there's less real estate in Australind available in the short term, as the flow-through effect will take some time to materialise.

Analysing the ABS data, the Housing Industry Association (HIA) said the results need to be considered in a much wider context. HIA economist Geordan Murray noted that approvals of other dwellings, which encompasses multi-units, were down 24 per cent over the course of November.

"At face value, the 24 per cent fall in approvals appears substantial, however it is important to recognise that it followed on from a particularly strong increases in September and October," Mr Murray commented.

This led him to conclude that the peak of the approvals cycle may now be in the past, but this doesn't necessarily mean there's nothing to look forward to. The main challenge is likely to emerge in the second half of this year, Mr Murray predicted, when sectors other than residential building will need to pick up the pace.

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