In the year to October 2015, there were 117,552 building approvals for medium density housing compared with 115,634 for standalone homes.
The Bankwest analysis of approvals underlines the momentum toward medium or higher density, as Australians change the way they live.
"That 12 month period to October was a record breaker," said Bankwest's general manager, for private banking, Greg Caust.
"I have no doubt medium density approvals will shortly exceed approvals for stand-alone homes – not just occasionally, but on an on-going basis."
Half the approvals in the 12 months to November 2015 were for medium density housing, up from 43.1 per cent the previous year. That proportion is well ahead of the average 34.4 per cent over the past 20 years.
The increase in medium density housing approvals is centred on the capital cities, with rising prices driving buyers toward more affordable options.
Canberra had the highest proportion of medium-density housing at 74.2 per cent, followed by Sydney on 69.4 per cent. In Brisbane the proportion was 64.5 per cent and in Melbourne it was 57.9 per cent.
"Higher density housing trends may be developing due to affordability issues, however they also mean society is moving toward more sustainable living," Mr Caust said.
"If urban sprawl is contained, populations will be closer to infrastructure, including health and education services and public transport networks. These services then can be better patronised and more efficient."
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