News & Research

Regional Building Consents and Population Growth

26 April 2017

There’s been increased coverage of the dwelling shortage lately so lets look into the data, simply comparing dwelling consents to population change. This series is only available quarterly, so it doesn’t reflect the recent slowdown in building consents across the country.

The previously upwards trend in building consents for new dwellings (grey line) had meant that the gap (red line) between population growth (blue line) and housing supply was beginning to close. 

We are now seeing a downwards trend in consents data across NZ, so this gap will start worsening again.  

It’s important to remember that just because a new dwelling is consented; it doesn’t automatically result in a new build. For many reasons, some consented dwellings don’t eventuate. The above calculation assumes that 80% of dwellings consented translate into an actual increase in the number of dwellings, and that each of those dwellings will house the current average number of people per dwelling (2.7). 

For example, over the year to December 2016 there were 31,766 dwellings consented (able to house 68,614 people) and an increase in population of 99,800, leaving a difference of around 31,000 too many people for dwellings.

Senior Research Analyst Nick Goodall comments: “There’s no perfect way of measuring the deficit, with so many factors to consider – from a changing household makeup to labour constraints impacting consent completion to accurately quantifying vacant dwellings - but one thing almost everyone agrees is that there is a shortage and unless building improves it’s only getting worse. So it’s no wonder there’s a huge focus on increasing housing stock, particularly given it’s an election year.” 

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