Canberra has recorded a surge in building approvals at the start of 2014 after six months of declining figures towards the end of last year.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a jump of 7.9 per cent in February after a lift of just 1.2 per cent in January. In trend terms, the ACT figure was the highest increase of all jurisdictions.
The previous highest increase was in May last year when approvals were up by 10.9 per cent.
The more positive indication for the new housing market follows data issued on Tuesday suggesting a bounce-back in the established market. The RP Data-Rismark home value index showed Canberra homes increased in value by 2.2 per cent in the March quarter, following a decline in the last quarter of 2013. The ACT had been the only jurisdiction to record a decrease in the December quarter.
Nationally, building approvals were up 0.7 per cent in trend terms in February.
Master Builders Association of the ACT executive director John Miller said while the 7.9 per cent was not a significant jump, the territory was quite healthy compared with the rest of the country.
While there was still a long way to go, the signs for the industry were
positive and the association hoped for some of the bounce to continue over the coming months.
"There's still aspiration in the industry and the reality is there's still demand in the market. Actually turning that into reality via approvals and financing and then activity is the trick," Mr Miller said.
"We remain cautiously optimistic that we can see some positive signs over a longer term."
Housing Industry Association ACT/Southern NSW executive director Neil Evans said the increase was a positive blip on the radar screen.
The HIA is predicting a decline of 30 per cent in unit approvals this year and 2 per cent in houses and townhouses. Mr Evans said the market had been quite volatile and the figure could represent a bit of a catch-up through the system rather than an ongoing trend.