New housing approvals fell 17.2% in July, driven by a sharp decline of 43.5% in unit approvals, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.  

“The decrease in the total number of dwellings approved in July was led by a sharp decline in approvals for private sector dwellings excluding houses, which dropped by 43.5%,” said Daniel Rossi, head of construction statistics at the ABS.  

“This was the lowest level recorded since January 2012 and was driven by a lack of approvals for large apartment developments. 

“Approvals for private sector houses remained steady, rising 0.7% in June, following a 1.6% increase in June.” 

Western Australian dwelling approvals fell 36.9%, marking the largest drop for the month.  

Housing approvals in Victoria and New South Wales declined 17.4% and 16.2%, respectively.  

Tasmania and Queensland saw dwelling approvals also decreased 14.5% and 13.7%, respectively, while South Australian dwelling approvals rose 19.2%. 

Housing Industry Association Economist Tom Devitt said the building approvals data for July continued to reflect the magnitude of Australia’s existing pipeline of home building work rather than the declines in housing demand that are evident in other leading indicators. 

“Building approvals for new houses in July increased by 1% compared to the previous month,” Devitt said. 

“This leaves approvals 23% lower in the three months to July 2022 compared to the same time last year. Despite this decline, house approvals in the three months to July 2022 were 12% higher than the same time in 2019. The strong volume of house approvals in recent months reflects the significant volume of new homes across Australia that had been sold earlier in the year, but not yet approved. 

“The strong volume of approvals in July 2022 hides the impact that rising interest rates are already having on more timely data. New home sales across Australia declined by 13.1% in July, following even earlier reports from the industry of a slowing in the number of groups visiting display sites. This will see weaker sales volumes in the second half of 2022. Approvals of multi units fell sharply in July, to see approvals in the three months to July 16.8% lower than in the same period in 2021.  

“Despite this decline they remain comparable with volumes of approvals prior to the pandemic. Given the large volume of work under construction and approved but not commenced, there will be a significant lag between the increase in the cash rate and an adverse impact on new home construction. The long lead times in this current cycle will hide the impact of rate rises and risk the RBA over shooting with unnecessary rate increases.”