Canada’s housing starts remained steady in January

The trend for Canadian housing starts was steady in January with 208,131 units improving on December’s 207,171 units.

The trend for Canadian housing starts was steady in January with 208,131 units improving on December’s 207,171 units.

CMHC’s latest 6-month moving average shows that things have snapped the recent trend towards fewer starts.

“After recent declines, the national trend in housing starts held steady in January and remained above historical average,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist. “While single-detached starts continued to trend lower in January, this was offset by an uptick in the trend for multi-unit dwellings in urban centres.

Vancouver – a tale of two cities
The second half od 2018 had seen Vancouver’s housing starts in decline so January’s hold-steady is welcome although they were focused on apartments in the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby, accounting for more than half of new construction in the CMA last month.

Toronto – cost of borrowing to weaken demand
The trend in Toronto was lower overall with single-family and apartment starts both reduced from December. But this impact was reduced by a significantly better showing for rowhouses which converted pre-sales into starts. 2019 is set for lower starts overall though as pre-sales were weakened by the higher cost of borrowing.

Ottawa – lowest starts for 2 decades
For Ottawa, there was a decline in starts across all home types as builders focused on units already under construction. The trend measure of starts was the lowest in more than 2 decades.

Quebec – should see stronger starts in 2019

While starts remained low in Quebec, immigration and the aging population should see starts pick up from a slow start. This is expected to be focused on the multi-family rental sector.

January standalone data
The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 207,968 units in January, down from 213,630 units in December. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 2.1% in January to 190,912 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 0.7% to 146,353 units in January while single-detached urban starts decreased by 10.4% to 44,559 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,056 units.

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