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Australia's big building companies have increased their share of the new home market, courtesy of the enhanced first home owners grant, a peak housing body says.

The proportion of dwelling starts by the top 100 house builders rose to 38 per cent nationally in 2008/09, up from 34 per cent the previous year, the Housing Industry Association's (HIA) Housing 100 Report said.

New home starts by the top 100 builders fell by 6.5 per cent in the year to June 2009 but the rest of the market fell by 17 per cent, the report, released on Wednesday, said.

HIA chief economist Harley Dale said the larger builders were greater beneficiaries of the increase to the government grant and it stopped a greater fall in overall starts.

In October 2008, the federal government tripled the first home owners grant to $21,000 for newly built dwellings.

"The boost to the grant helped the Housing 100 increase their share of detached house starts to a record 44 per cent, up from 39 per cent in 2007/08," Dr Dale said in a statement.

"We expect the share will reach a fresh high in 2009/10."

"The market share for the largest builders increased in 2008/09 in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, with the share in WA exceeding 70 per cent."

The Housing 100 builders started 49,360 dwellings in 2008/09, down 3,455 on the year before, comprising 39,947 detached houses and 9,413 flats, units and townhouses.

Western Australia-based BGC (Australia) was the biggest builder across the nation for the sixth straight year, while Meriton Apartments constructed the most multi-units.

Building approvals for the month of June 2009 were 13.7 per cent lower than the corresponding period in 2008, but had risen by 14.8 per cent from December 2008, Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed.

"We did, nevertheless, witness a drop in Housing 100 starts in 2008/09 and the emerging recovery in 2009/10 is being constrained by bottlenecks in the approvals process," Dr Dale said.

Dr Dale said efforts to streamline the building approvals process and boosting the numbers of skilled workers were necessary otherwise underlying demand for a minimum of 190,000 dwellings a year would not be met.

Ed Logue