New dwelling consents pick up in March, but still not enough to solve Auckland's housing shortage

The number of new homes being consented rose for the third month in a row in March, with 2779 new dwelling consents issued, compared with 2418 in February and 1752 in January, according to Statistics NZ.

Compared to March last year the number of consents issued was up 20%.

The figures show new homes being consented are consistently increasing at around 10% a year, with the number of consents issued in the 12 months to March (30,626) up 10.2% on the previous 12 months, which was up 11% on the 12 months prior to that.

In Auckland, where the need for new housing is greatest, consents were issued for 942 new homes, up 19.6% compared to March last year, and the fourth highest number of consents issued in any of the previous 12 months.

However the number of consents issued in Auckland is still well below the estimated average of 1250 new homes that need to be built each month just to keep pace with the region’s burgeoning, migration-driven population growth.

That means  Auckland’s housing shortage is continuing to grow, adding to the estimated existing shortfall of at least 30,000 homes in the region.  

Within the Auckland region the highest number of new consents issued was in the Albany District on the North Shore, where 227 new homes were consented, followed by Rodney with 122, Central Auckland 116 and Manukau 114.

In a First Impressions note on the figures, Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod said the building levels in Auckland were expected to continue rising over the coming year.

“Much of this month’s increase [in Auckland] relates to multi-unit consents such as apartments and townhouses, potentially reflecting inccreased activity from developers now that the new Unitary Plan has cleared its legal hurdles,” he said. 

Outside of Auckland, the biggest areas of consenting activity were Canterbury with 491 new consents (278 in Christchurch), Waikato 319 (123 in Hamilton), Bay of Plenty 230 (169 in Tauranga), Otago 210, Wellington Region 160 and Northland 135.

The total value of new dwellings consented in March (excluding land) was $1.024 billion, which was the the third month in the last 12 that it has exceeded $1 billion.

In the year to March the total value of new dwellings consented was $10.778 billion, with another $1.907 billion of structural additions and alterations consented, taking the total value of all residential work consented to $12.685 billion, easily an all time high and up 14.9% compared to the previous 12 months. 

 Stand alone houses remain the most popular type of dwelling being consented by a considerable margin, with 1923 houses consented in March and 407 townhouses/units, 252 Apartments and 197 retirement village units.

Building consents – residential

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