Canadian housing starts trend upwards in March

OTTAWA, April 10, 2017 — Housing starts are trending higher at 211,342 units in March 2017, compared to 205,521 units in February 2017, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.

“March housing starts were at their highest level since September 2007, pushing the trend in housing starts upward for a third consecutive month,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s Chief Economist. “Stronger residential construction at the national level is reflected by a rising trend in single-detached and multi-unit starts in Ontario and continued growth of new rental apartments in Québec.”

Monthly highlights

  • Vancouver housing starts trended lower for the fourth consecutive month but, remained above the five-year average. Actual housing starts reached the highest level on record for March since 1972, driven by new apartment construction. Starts activity in the Vancouver CMA is also picking up again after an unusually cold winter.
  • In Toronto, the total starts trend moved higher in March, supported by all housing types. While apartment starts registered the strongest trend increase in March, single-detached home construction has been trending higher since the end of last summer. Demand for new housing is growing as supply in the rental and resale markets is short, reflected by low rental apartment vacancy rates and declining active listings.
  • The decline in townhouse starts contributed to a downward trend in Hamilton CMA total housing starts, despite the strength in single-detached and semi-detached housing starts. Notwithstanding this month’s decline, strong demand from local residents and out-of-town buyers continued to support townhouse construction as this type of dwelling remains the most viable option for many first time homebuyers.
  • ‘Demand’ is the story in St. Catharines-Niagara. As buyers from Toronto and Hamilton seek the relatively affordable options, resale inventory is being squeezed and prices are soaring. This is prompting buyers to turn to the new housing market, where singles in land-abundant Niagara Falls remain a sought-after commodity.
  • Multi-unit residential construction in the Montréal area remained significant in March. In addition to several seniors’ residences, many rental apartments were started in all parts of the metropolitan area this past month, and new rental units reached a 25-year high. With the decrease in inventories of unsold condominium units, renewed growth was also noted in this segment, as many new projects got under way.
  • The pace of residential construction in the Québec area has slowed down since the beginning of the year. This decline has been mainly due to a decrease in activity in the purpose-built rental housing segment. It should be mentioned that starts of this type reached historically high levels in 2015 and 2016. Consequently, given the significant number of rental apartments currently under construction and the recent increase in the vacancy rate in the area, a downward adjustment was expected.
  • There is an upward momentum to residential construction in Charlottetown. Strong population growth coupled with a tight supply of both resale homes and rental units has led more homebuyers to look to the new home market. Singles starts over the first quarter of 2017 reached levels not recorded since 1987.

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 Canada’s housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next.

The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 253,720 units in March, up from 214,253 units in February. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 20.2 per cent in March to 235,674 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 30.2 per cent to 160,989 units in March, while single-detached urban starts increased by 3.1 per cent, to 74,685 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 18,046 units.

Preliminary Housing Starts data is also available in English and French through our website and through CMHC’s Housing Market Information Portal. Our analysts are also available to provide further insight into their respective markets.

As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers objective housing research and information to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry.

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Information on this release:

CMHC media relations

National/British Columbia
Jonathan Rotondo
CMHC Media Relations
613-748-2734
jrotondo@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Atlantic
Katherine LeBlanc
902-789-5709
krleblan@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Quebec/Prairies
Catherine Léger
514-283-7972
cléger@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Ontario
Angelina Ritacco
416-218-3320
aritacco@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Additional data is available upon request.

Preliminary housing start data in centres 10,000 population and over
  Single-Detached All Others Total
March 2016 March 2017 % March 2016 March 2017 % March 2016 March 2017 %
Provinces (10,000+)  
N.-L. 10 8 -20 4 13 225 14 21 50
P.E.I. 2 20 ## 6 2 -67 8 22 175
N.S. 46 61 33 28 10 -64 74 71 -4
N.B. 10 5 -50 2 55 ## 12 60 400
Atlantic 68 94 38 40 80 100 108 174 61
Qc 374 378 1 1,446 2,992 107 1,820 3,370 85
Ont. 1,317 1,605 22 4,590 4,080 -11 5,907 5,685 -4
Man. 119 254 113 47 283 ## 166 537 223
Sask. 103 134 30 89 153 72 192 287 49
Alta. 650 719 11 907 1,801 99 1,557 2,520 62
Prairies 872 1,107 27 1,043 2,237 114 1,915 3,344 75
B.C. 749 847 13 2,407 2,741 14 3,156 3,588 14
Canada (10,000+) 3,380 4,031 19 9,526 12,130 27 12,906 16,161 25
Metropolitan Areas  
Abbotsford-Mission 35 44 26 40 78 95 75 122 63
Barrie 24 10 -58 8 123 ## 32 133 316
Belleville ** 16 ## ** 11 ## ** 27 ##
Brantford 27 11 -59 0 4 ## 27 15 -44
Calgary 217 283 30 194 862 344 411 1,145 179
Edmonton 290 280 -3 584 880 51 874 1,160 33
Greater Sudbury 0 1 ## 0 0 - 0 1 ##
Guelph 17 15 -12 73 108 48 90 123 37
Halifax 32 26 -19 18 2 -89 50 28 -44
Hamilton 47 25 -47 266 62 -77 313 87 -72
Kelowna 44 61 39 156 441 183 200 502 151
Kingston 19 10 -47 4 3 -25 23 13 -43
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo 62 132 113 86 47 -45 148 179 21
Lethbridge ** 41 ## ** 18 ## ** 59 ##
London 72 114 58 12 125 ## 84 239 185
Moncton 2 1 -50 2 55 ## 4 56 ##
Montréal 157 163 4 662 2,082 215 819 2,245 174
Oshawa 63 130 106 183 16 -91 246 146 -41
Ottawa-Gatineau 103 127 23 292 429 47 395 556 41
Gatineau 18 23 28 127 322 154 145 345 138
Ottawa 85 104 22 165 107 -35 250 211 -16
Peterborough 1 7 ## 0 2 ## 1 9 ##
Québec 49 53 8 168 199 18 217 252 16
Regina 50 52 4 26 58 123 76 110 45
Saguenay 4 5 25 12 26 117 16 31 94
St. Catharines-Niagara 100 75 -25 25 52 108 125 127 2
Saint John 2 2 - 0 0 - 2 2 -
St. John's 7 7 - 4 0 -100 11 7 -36
Saskatoon 43 74 72 50 93 86 93 167 80
Sherbrooke 19 20 5 60 87 45 79 107 35
Thunder Bay 0 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 -
Toronto 551 654 19 3,616 3,190 -12 4,167 3,844 -8
Trois-Rivières 11 10 -9 6 12 100 17 22 29
Vancouver 401 442 10 1,895 2,044 8 2,296 2,486 8
Victoria 88 81 -8 146 79 -46 234 160 -32
Windsor 42 58 38 15 39 160 57 97 70
Winnipeg 106 210 98 34 274 ## 140 484 246
Total 2,685 3,240 21 8,637 11,501 33 11,322 14,741 30

Data for 2016 based on 2011 Census Definitions.
Data for 2017 based on 2016 Census Definitions.
Source: Market Analysis Centre, CMHC

** Belleville and Lethbridge were not metropolitan areas in 2016.
## not calculable/extreme value

Preliminary housing start data — seasonally adjusted at annual rates (SAAR)
  Single-Detached All Others Total
February 2017 March 2017 % February 2017 March 2017 % February 2017 March 2017 %
Provinces (10,000+)  
N.L. 858 495 -42 206 163 -21 1,064 658 -38
P.E.I. 276 894 224 96 24 -75 372 918 147
N.S. 1,535 1,080 -30 3,651 170 -95 5,186 1,250 -76
N.B. 335 350 4 107 663 ## 442 1,013 129
Qc 6,938 6,340 -9 33,752 46,837 39 40,690 53,177 31
Ont. 35,780 35,973 1 48,111 52,868 10 83,891 88,841 6
Man. 3,469 3,936 13 4,308 3,396 -21 7,777 7,332 -6
Sask. 2,453 2,713 11 1,824 1,836 1 4,277 4,549 6
Alta. 11,636 11,141 -4 12,906 22,070 71 24,542 33,211 35
B.C. 9,194 11,763 28 18,710 32,962 76 27,904 44,725 60
Canada (10,000+) 72,474 74,685 3 123,671 160,989 30 196,145 235,674 20
Canada (All Areas) 87,464 89,399 2 126,791 164,321 30 214,253 253,720 18
Metropolitan Areas  
Abbotsford-Mission 162 705 335 84 936 ## 246 1,641 ##
Barrie 2,337 295 -87 1,668 1,476 -12 4,005 1,771 -56
Belleville 448 889 98 24 132 450 472 1,021 116
Brantford 102 110 8 96 48 -50 198 158 -20
Calgary 3,489 4,019 15 2,544 10,344 307 6,033 14,363 138
Edmonton 4,624 4,118 -11 9,096 10,560 16 13,720 14,678 7
Greater Sudbury 13 232 ## 0 0 - 13 232 ##
Guelph 260 284 9 1,260 1,296 3 1,520 1,580 4
Halifax 756 432 -43 3,204 24 -99 3,960 456 -88
Hamilton 1,782 421 -76 3,324 744 -78 5,106 1,165 -77
Kelowna 919 982 7 1,848 5,292 186 2,767 6,274 127
Kingston 402 237 -41 0 36 ## 402 273 -32
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo 1,610 1,956 21 684 564 -18 2,294 2,520 10
Lethbridge 724 697 -4 72 216 200 796 913 15
London 2,275 2,208 -3 1,116 1,500 34 3,391 3,708 9
Moncton 126 93 -26 0 660 ## 126 753 498
Montréal 2,937 2,597 -12 19,149 25,380 33 22,086 27,977 27
Oshawa 2,332 2,429 4 228 192 -16 2,560 2,621 2
Ottawa-Gatineau 3,876 3,200 -17 6,552 5,148 -21 10,428 8,348 -20
Gatineau 560 651 16 1,080 3,864 258 1,640 4,515 175
Ottawa 3,316 2,549 -23 5,472 1,284 -77 8,788 3,833 -56
Peterborough 238 575 142 0 24 ## 238 599 152
Québec 741 823 11 972 2,388 146 1,713 3,211 87
Regina 785 704 -10 1,572 696 -56 2,357 1,400 -41
Saguenay 181 173 -4 24 312 ## 205 485 137
St. Catharines-Niagara 1,673 1,545 -8 648 624 -4 2,321 2,169 -7
Saint John 117 127 9 0 0 - 117 127 9
St. John's 677 359 -47 0 0 - 677 359 -47
Saskatoon 1,264 1,553 23 240 1,116 365 1,504 2,669 77
Sherbrooke 473 304 -36 468 1,044 123 941 1,348 43
Thunder Bay 157 148 -6 0 0 - 157 148 -6
Toronto 15,377 14,741 -4 21,012 38,280 82 36,389 53,021 46
Trois-Rivières 162 411 154 0 144 ## 162 555 243
Vancouver 4,095 5,909 44 14,028 24,528 75 18,123 30,437 68
Victoria 1,058 1,068 1 1,524 948 -38 2,582 2,016 -22
Windsor 437 1,287 195 156 468 200 593 1,755 196
Winnipeg 2,535 3,032 20 3,528 3,288 -7 6,063 6,320 4

Data based on 2016 Census Definitions.
Source: Market Analysis Centre, CMHC
## not calculable/extreme value

Canada

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