8731.0 - Building Approvals, Australia, May 2020 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/07/2020   
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May key figures

May 20
Apr 20 to May 20
May 19 to May 20

Total dwelling units approved
Private sector houses
Private sector dwellings excluding houses
Total dwelling units approved
12 736
Private sector houses
8 515
Private sector dwellings excluding houses
3 920

na not available

Dwelling units approved, Seasonally adjusted
Graph: Dwelling units approved

Private sector houses approved, Seasonally adjusted
Graph: Private sector houses approved

May key points

Total dwelling units
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for total dwellings approved fell 16.4% in May.

Private sector houses
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for private sector houses fell 4.4% in May.

Private sector dwellings excluding houses
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for private sector dwellings excluding houses fell 34.9% in May.

Value of building approved
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate of the value of total building approved fell 13.5% in May. The value of residential building fell 17.3%, while the value of non-residential building fell 7.1%.


Forthcoming issues

Issue Release date
May 2020 - Additional8 July 2020
June 202030 July 2020
June 2020 - Additional6 August 2020
July 20201 September 2020
July 2020 - Additional8 September 2020
August 202030 September 2020

Data notes

In this release, revisions are provided for the time period from July 2018 to April 2020. Further information about potential sources of revisions can be found in the feature article released with the January 2016 8731.0 publication - "Revisions to Building Approval Statistics".

Small area data cubes and CSV files will be made available in an “Additional Information” release five business days after the main publication. These will be for Statistical Area Level 2 and Local Government Areas. Release dates are published under the “Forthcoming Issues” section of the publication and in ABS Release Advice.

A number of time series spreadsheets contain ‘np’ (not available for publication) annotations. This is due to confidential data being contained in these series.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) in May

The World Health Organisation (WHO) commenced daily situation reports of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on 21 January 2020 and identified it as an international health emergency on 30 January. In March, regulations to encourage social distancing saw further impacts on the ability of businesses to trade as normal, resulting in rising unemployment and reduced household income. Travel restrictions have reduced the number of overseas arrivals to near-zero, resulting in less housing demand from overseas migrants.

Minor effects of COVID-19 are apparent in the headline Building Approvals results in May 2020. Due to the lag between changes in demand, and the submission and determination of a building approval, the May data likely reflects applications and levels of demand prior to the introduction of major restrictions. However, the number of applications approved in May was slightly lower than normal across most states and territories.

Data collection activities continued to be largely unaffected in the May 2020 reference period. The ABS appreciates the support of federal, state and local government in continuing to provide the data to compile this publication.

Suspension of trend series

The trend series attempts to measure underlying behaviour in building approval activity. In the short term, this measurement will be significantly affected by changes to regular patterns in approval activity during this time, as potential home builders face on-going uncertainty. If the trend estimates in this publication were to be calculated without fully accounting for this irregular event, they would likely provide a misleading view of underlying approval activity.

It may be some time before the underlying trend in building approvals can be accurately estimated. The Building Approvals monthly trend series have therefore been suspended starting from May 2020. The trend series will be reinstated when more certainty emerges in the underlying trend.

Please note that due to the suppression of trend data, the "State Trends" page has not been included in this publication. The seasonally adjusted percentage change movements can be found in the Media Release.

Update to seasonal adjustment methods

Building Approvals uses the concurrent seasonal adjustment method, meaning that seasonal factors are re-estimated each time a new data point becomes available. If not appropriately accounted for, unusual real-world events, such as COVID-19, can distort estimates calculated using this method. From May 2020, seasonal factors are being calculated using data up to and including April 2020, then projected from May 2020 onwards. This approach, known as the forward factor method, ensures that the seasonal factors are not distorted by COVID-19 impacts.

Revisions this month

Revisions to the total number of dwelling units approved in this issue are:




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