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Green shoots as Australian housing bounces back

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The Australian housing market has bounced back dramatically and unexpectedly, official figures have revealed.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed a seasonally-adjusted total of 13,591 dwellings were approved in May.

This is up 27 per cent on the previous month, and nine per cent on the same month a year earlier.

It follows a bad month in April (see AJ 14.06.2012), when the figure was almost a quarter lower than the same period in 2011.

Apartment building rebounded spectacularly. The number of private sector dwellings excluding houses approved in May 2012 rocketed by 59 per cent year on year.

Private sector houses, in contrast, rose by just nine per cent.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors economist Matthew Edmonds had predicted a recovery in the sector – but did not expect it to happen this soon.

He told AJ this week: ‘I was expecting a fairly similar number to April, before a gradual pick up in the second half of the year. But it looks like the stimulus provided by the Royal Bank of Australia rate cuts have had a real effect on confidence in the sector.’

However, he sounded a note of caution for the long term.

‘The number of permits is now above the long run average of approximately 13,000, but this shouldn’t be overstated. Dwelling investment is still likely to be a drag on growth for the year as a whole, before activity picks up in 2013.

‘The immediate outlook is still a little uncertain given the risks surrounding Europe and a slowing in the ‘growth economies’. We expect the approvals data to continue around the current level, trending up slightly as the RBA further unwinds monetary tightening in the second half of the year.

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