The latest ABS figures for new dwelling approvals show a good recovery in July and remain at very high levels by historic standards, according to the Housing Industry Association (HIA), the voice of Australia’s residential building industry.

A total of 16,320 dwellings were approved in July 2014, a 2.5 per cent increase on the previous month as well as the previous three-month period. Over the twelve months to July, new home approvals totalled 195,227.

HIA Senior Economist, Shane Garrett observes that the latest ABS figures mean Australia’s home building industry has broken yet another record this year. He explains that total seasonally adjusted new home approvals over the past twelve months are the highest since 1984. Having broken through the 195,000 threshold for the first time, new home building approvals are now at an even higher level than during the 1994 building boom.

However, Shane Garrett cautions that signs of slowdown have been observed in new home building approvals over the past six months. The bulk of the July increase was driven by an exceptional large expansion in WA; for the growth to sustain, it is important to ensure that the increase happens across a number of markets to achieve sustainably healthy levels of new home building over the coming decade, far outweighing the performance of the last ten years. Numerous government policies across all tiers stand in the way of this objective being achieved.

According to Shane Garrett, HIA’s recent Stamp Duty Watch report found the home transactions tax to be burdensome for new home buyers, going as high as some $19,200 on a median-priced dwelling in New South Wales. Stamp duty is just one of the taxes on new housing; he believes easing some of the burden on the industry would do much for the sustainable supply of affordable housing.

The increase in building approvals nationally during July was driven largely by the 23.1 per cent increase in Western Australia in seasonally-adjusted terms, following by Queensland with a slight increase of +0.9 per cent. Significant declines in July for new dwelling approvals affected Tasmania (down 7.7 per cent), NSW (down 5.7 per cent) and Victoria (down 4.6 per cent). A smaller reduction of 1.9 per cent occurred in South Australia.

In trend terms, new home approvals increased by 16.7 per cent in the Northern Territory but fell by 9.3 per cent in the Australian Capital Territory during July.