Housing construction data shows Port Stephens market cooling after five years of strong approvals

There are less new homes are under construction in Port Stephens than in quite some time, the latest housing approval data shows.

There’s been little to grumble about since 2013 when construction approvals hit 388 for the calendar year. 

It slowed to 224 in 2014 but raced back to 377 in 2015 and remained strong at 342 for 2016; for a five-year average of 315.

The Housing Industry Association said it wasn’t overly concerned.

“We’ve had a good few years in Port Stephens so its probably coming off the boil a bit,” HIA Hunter director Craig Jennion said.

“It would seem like coming back to 2012 levels.”

The latest figures show there had been just 174 approvals at the end of August. If the trend continues until year’s end it will be 261 – only 20 approvals above the 241 ticks for new homes in 2012. 

“The Hunter remains positive overall,” Mr Jennion said.

“If you look around Port Stephens, at the centres like Raymond Terrace and Nelson Bay, there hasn’t been a lot of greenfield development.”

Closer analysis of the data revealed it was unit construction that had slowed the most.

In the 12 months to August 2017 there was 37 multi-unit approvals compared to 71 in the same period last year. That’s a 48 per cent downturn.

In the three months to August 2017, detached housing eased from 61 approvals to 45 – down 26 pc. At the same time unit approvals went from 33 back to 20. 

“We’re down a third overall in Port Stephens,” Mr Jennion said.

“Unfortunately it has softened a little.”

The housing data collected from Port Stephens Council is considered a gauge on the economy and confidence.

“If our sector starts to drop it begins to effect other [economic] sectors,” Mr Jennion said.