May 2013 Housing Starts in Canada

OTTAWA, June 10, 2013 — Housing starts in Canada were trending at 182,756 units in May compared to 182,971 in April, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR)1 of housing starts.

“The trend in total housing starts was essentially unchanged in May as gains in the multiple starts segment partly offset the moderation in activity that was observed in previous months, especially in Atlantic Canada and Ontario. As a result, the trend in housing activity remains close to its historical average and is in line with estimates of household formation,” said Mathieu Laberge, Deputy Chief Economist at CMHC.

CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of the housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading in some markets, as they are largely driven by the multiples segment of the markets, which can be quite volatile from one month to the next.

The standalone monthly SAAR was 200,178 units in May, an increase from 175,922 in April. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 14.6 per cent in May to 177,234 units, led by a 22.2-per-cent rise in multiple urban starts to 114,346 units. Single urban starts increased by 3.0 per cent to 62,888 units in May.

May’s seasonally adjusted annual rates of urban starts increased in Atlantic Canada and Ontario, and were essentially unchanged in the Prairies. Urban starts decreased in British Columbia and Quebec.

Rural starts2 were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 22,944 units in May.

Preliminary Housing Starts data is also available in English and French at the following link: Preliminary Housing Starts Tables.

As Canada's national housing agency, CMHC draws on more than 65 years of experience to help Canadians access a variety of high quality, environmentally sustainable and affordable housing solutions. CMHC also provides reliable, impartial and up-to-date housing market reports, analysis and knowledge to support and assist consumers and the housing industry in making informed decisions.

Follow CMHC on Twitter @CMHC_ca.

1 All starts figures in this release, other than actual starts and the trend estimate, are seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) — that is, monthly figures adjusted to remove normal seasonal variation and multiplied by 12 to reflect annual levels. By removing seasonal ups and downs, seasonal adjustment allows for a comparison from one season to the next and from one month to the next. Reporting monthly figures at annual rates indicates the annual level of starts that would be obtained if the monthly pace were maintained for 12 months. This facilitates comparison of the current pace of activity to annual forecasts as well as to historical annual levels.

2 CMHC estimates the level of starts in centres with a population of less than 10,000 for each of the three months of the quarter, at the beginning of each quarter. During the last month of the quarter, CMHC conducts the survey in these centres and revises the estimate.

Information on this release:

Charles Sauriol
CMHC Media Relations

Housing Starts in Canada — All Areas

Preliminary Housing Start Data
May 2013
  April 2013 May 2013
Trend1, all areas 182,971 182,756
SAAR, all areas 175,922 200,178
SAAR, rural areas 21,330 22,944
SAAR, urban centres2    
Single-detached 61,029 62,888
Multiples 93,563 114,346
Total 154,592 177,234
Atlantic, urban centres2 4,451 9,425
Quebec, urban centres2 32,994 31,146
Ontario, urban centres2 46,054 67,429
Prairies, urban centres2 48,083 47,926
British Columbia, urban centres2 23,010 21,308
Canada May 2012 May 2013
Actual, all areas 19,744 18,301
Actual, rural areas 2,206 2,319
Actual, urban centres2    
May — Single-detached 6,480 6,128
May — Multiples 11,058 9,854
May — Total 17,538 15,982
January to May — Single-detached 24,231 22,037
January to May — Multiples 50,830 38,430
January to May — Total 75,061 60,467

Source: CMHC
1 The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR). 
2 Urban centres with a population of 10,000 and over.
Detailed data available upon request.


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