Housing starts ‘moderate’ with drop

The national trend in housing starts continued to decline in August from the historical peak recorded in March, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reports.

“This moderation brings total starts closer to historical averages, largely reflecting recent declines in the trend of multi-unit starts from historically elevated levels earlier in the year,” says Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist.

The trend in housing starts was 214,598 units in August, which compares to 219,656 units in July. In Toronto, rising prices and land constraints pulled back sales of pre-construction single-detached units over the past several years, resulting in fewer single-detached starts so far this year when compared to the same period in 2017. However, strong pre-construction sales of condominium apartments over the past couple of years led to a higher level of condominium starts on a year-to-date basis.

Total housing starts trended higher in the Oshawa Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), which recorded the most actual row unit starts in almost three decades. Higher house prices in Toronto and surrounding areas continue to boost the popularity of relatively more affordable higher density housing there.

Elsewhere in the country, housing starts in B.C.’s Vancouver CMA; Edmonton, Alta.; Winnipeg, Man.; and N.B. also trended higher in August. In Halifax, N.S., construction activity on the single-detached market remained stable year-over-year but multiple starts more than doubled the levels recorded last August.


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