Homebuilding permits dip another 8.4%


December's seasonally adjusted 8.4 per cent decline in building and renovation approvals to 13,995 continues November's slide, with approvals now down 22.5 per cent over 12 months, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Monday.

A near 20 per cent drop in the apartment sector was the main factor driving total approvals to their lowest levels since June 2013, with the Australian dollar also dipping on the news.

Economists said the data flagged a further weakening of housing market conditions into 2019.

"Housing weakness in late 2019 was clearly not confined to just turnover and prices with new dwelling approvals sliding sharply into year end," said Westpac economist Matthew Hassan.

The seasonally adjusted estimate for private sector house values fell 2.2 per cent in December, while unit, apartment and townhouse values fell 18.8 per cent.

The value of residential building fell 5.9 per cent for the month, while the value of non-residential building fell 9.8 per cent.

BIS Oxford Economics managing director Robert Mellor blamed the major capital cities for the wider approvals slump during the three months to December, adding that regional Australia appeared to have bucked the trend.

"This clear divergence between metro and regional Australia is systematic of the sharp rise in new supply and falling house prices in Sydney and Melbourne compared with continued strength in surrounding region hubs," he said.

Last week CoreLogic said house price falls in Sydney and Melbourne appear to be accelerating and the decline could now be larger than the one that followed the global financial crisis a decade ago.

"Tight credit conditions, weakening consumer sentiment, less domestic and foreign investment and higher levels of housing supply are the primary drivers of the worsening conditions," CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless said.