The number of new home consents in New Zealand hit a six-year high last month, prompting the government to declare that policies to free up land and speed up development are alleviating the country's housing affordability problems.
The government statistics agency announced Friday that the number of consents rose by 0.1 percent last month to 2,282, the highest monthly total since April 2008.
"The trend for new dwellings has more than doubled since March 2011, but is still 26 percent below the series peak in January 2004," Statistics New Zealand business indicators manager Neil Kelly said in a statement.
The two largest cities accounted for the most consents with the Auckland region at 849 and earthquake-battered Christchurch and the surrounding Canterbury region at 609.
Housing Minister Nick Smith said in a statement that the number of new dwelling consents was growing at record rates, with the number nationally up 23 percent in the year to the end of July to 23,659, while the numbers were up 30 percent to 7,119 in Auckland and 109 percent to 3,776 in Christchurch.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) has repeatedly warned that soaring house prices, particularly in Auckland which is home to a quarter of New Zealand's population, are a threat to the country's financial stability.
In October last year, the RBNZ tightened the loan-to-value ratio requirement on mortgage lending and this year it has raised the official cash rate four times by 25 basis points each time, lifting it from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent. Enditem