Building approvals figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics have revealed mixed signals, with some positive results being masked by a fall in May.

The total number of dwellings approved seasonally adjusted in May 2013 fell 1.1 per cent, with private sector houses rising 2.5 per cent and 'other dwellings' including units, townhouses and apartments falling 9.8 per cent.

Peter Jones, Master Builders Australia's Chief Economist said the positive is that approvals are up 9.9 per cent in the five months to May from the corresponding period a year ago.

"The overall fall in approvals is largely attributed to the 9.8 per cent fall in other dwellings, which is not a surprise following an 18 per cent increase in April,” he said.

"Another positive from the figures is the 2.5 per cent increase in private sector housing and the positive trends which have developed in total dwelling units approved and private sector housing approved,” he added.

Mr Jones suggested the low interest rates and the recent fall in the dollar should boost confidence and lead to improved residential building conditions.

"But, the improvement in the indicators is a bittersweet pill for builders, because they really are struggling,” he said.
"The real concern for builders is there has been no real tangible improvement for builders on the ground, which was revealed in Master Builders' June quarter National Survey of Building and Construction.”

Mr Jones concluded by calling on the Reserve Bank to consider further interest rate cuts to stimulate the industry.