A helpful reader, 'energy24.7', left this comment:
And energy24.7 is absolutely right. I'd steered away from the seasonally unadjusted numbers so as to get a better feel for the underlying trend, which is fine in many circumstances, but the baby that went out with the bathwater was the information in the raw data. So here it is*.Check the raw numbers for consents. You'll pretty quickly see the downturn in trend is due to reduction in the volatile apartment series. Houses are still on their way up (excepting a little seasonal variation). But I'm not saying they're anywhere near where they need to be, just it explains the downturn in dwelling trend
And as energy24.7 said, the fall is indeed down to apartment numbers dropping to virtually nothing, while house numbers have been gradually increasing.
Which all brings us to a new question, though: what's going on in the apartment sector? There are umpteen possibilities (and I'm hoping more housing-expert readers will chip in with their views). It could, for example, be happenstance: it's a fairly volatile series. But I'm not convinced: you'd expect apartment consents to be well above the minimal, credit-constrained levels of the GFC. Or it might be capacity constraints, though again that doesn't feel especially plausible.
Or are developers waiting for a potentially more intense-development-friendly environment under the new Auckland Unitary Plan? If so, we're in for at least a few more months of very low apartment consent levels, as the recommendations from the Plan hearings panel won't go public till July 27, and even then we don't know whether the Council will buy into them (they've got to notify their decision by August 19). And then there will be lags while developers go through the hoops of whatever planning process emerges from the whole debate.
Whatever it is, it needs to be fixed, pronto. Falling levels of apartment consents are the very last thing the Auckland housing market needs.
*An earlier version of this graph had the lines mislabelled (houses and apartments were the wrong way round). It's right now. Thanks to alert reader Mark who picked it up.