Canadian housing starts trend increased in July

OTTAWA, August 9, 2017 — The trend in housing starts was 217,550 units in July 2017, compared to 215,175 units in June 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.

“In July, Canada’s pace in housing construction ramped up for a seventh consecutive month,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist. “British Columbia and Alberta were the main contributors to the higher trend in housing starts. While BC’s construction coincides with near-record low completed and unsold units in the past few months, Alberta’s inventory of new unsold homes is ramping up, highlighting the need for managing inventories.”

Monthly highlights

Toronto

Total housing starts in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area trended lower in July. Lower trending apartment and single-detached starts were mainly responsible for the decline. Overall, total housing starts were still trending close to the average level seen so far this year. Strong increases in semi-detached and town home starts pointed to affordability concerns driving demand for less expensive housing types.

Vancouver

Vancouver CMA housing starts were up slightly in July due to the construction of more townhomes and apartments getting underway. The largest increase in construction activity occurred in Burnaby, New Westminster and Coquitlam, as the relative affordability of more modestly priced townhomes and apartments in these communities supported consumer demand. The number of units under construction in the Vancouver CMA remains near record highs, and developers will be keeping an eye on market conditions as these projects are completed in the coming year.

Calgary

After a slow start, the trend in new home construction this year has increased, moving closer in line with historical averages. Multiple starts in particular have been strong in recent months, including July, despite inventories sitting at near record highs. If the current pace of production does not ease, there is the possibility that inventories will stay elevated for an extended period of time.

Ottawa

July housing starts trended up on the back of strong multiple construction. Multiple starts this year have been driven by the rise in rental apartment starts, which to July reached about 1.5 times their level for 2016 as a whole. Builders are diversifying high-rise product as a substantial number of completed condominium apartment units remain unsold. In addition, an ageing rental stock, and robust rental demand are contributing to increased building activity for rental units.

Gatineau

With construction getting under way on several large rental projects at the same time, housing starts in the Gatineau area were up considerably in July. The rising demand, supported in part by stronger employment, will help residential construction stay on an upward trend over the coming months.

London

Single-detached starts in both the City of London and London CMA posted the highest levels for the month of July since 2007. The continued elevated number of single-detached starts is driven largely by demand spillover from the resale market, which has seen a dramatic increase in the sales of homes priced at $500,000 and over. Also, the price gap between single-detached homes in London and comparable homes in Toronto has continued to remain wide, making London an attractive destination for buyers from the Greater Toronto Area.

Greater Sudbury

Housing starts in Greater Sudbury trended lower in July, due to a decline in both single detached and multiple starts. The trend dipped for the seventh consecutive month, reflecting declines in full-time employment and a healthy supply in the resale market.

Nova Scotia

Construction in both the singles and multiples markets in Halifax continues to show strength in July with year-over-year starts increasing by 15% and 31%, respectively. Year-to-date, the singles market has witnessed the strongest number of starts since 2013, while the multiples market continues to be a driver of residential construction, especially on the Halifax Peninsula and Mainland North regions.

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 222,324 units in July, up from 212,948 units in June. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 5.5 per cent in July to 206,122 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 10.4 per cent to 141,950 units in July and single-detached urban starts decreased by 3.9 per cent, to 64,172 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16,202 units.

Preliminary Housing Starts data are 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 & Ontario
Audrey-Anne Coulombe
CMHC Media Relations
613-748-2573
acoulomb@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Atlantic
Natalie Chavarie
902-426-4262
nchavari@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Quebec
Étienne Campeau
514-496-5458
ecampeau@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Prairies
Renee Nat
403-515-2963
rnat@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

British Columbia
Jeanette Wilkinson
604-737-4007
jpwilkin@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
July 2016 July 2017 % July 2016 July 2017 % July 2016 July 2017 %
Provinces (10,000+)  
N.-L. 76 95 25 19 62 226 95 157 65
P.E.I. 16 31 94 15 47 213 31 78 152
N.S. 129 146 13 205 238 16 334 384 15
N.B. 72 122 69 26 74 185 98 196 100
Atlantic 293 394 34 265 421 59 558 815 46
Qc 590 662 12 1,896 2,587 36 2,486 3,249 31
Ont. 2,779 2,691 -3 4,195 4,482 7 6,974 7,173 3
Man. 199 266 34 434 133 -69 633 399 -37
Sask. 203 215 6 223 203 -9 426 418 -2
Alta. 916 1,285 40 1,223 1,561 28 2,139 2,846 33
Prairies 1,318 1,766 34 1,880 1,897 1 3,198 3,663 15
B.C. 1,011 998 -1 2,270 2,922 29 3,281 3,920 19
Canada (10,000+) 5,991 6,511 9 10,506 12,309 17 16,497 18,820 14
Metropolitan Areas  
Abbotsford-Mission 52 24 -54 34 157 362 86 181 110
Barrie 92 101 10 126 1 -99 218 102 -53
Belleville ** 39 ## ** 36 ## ** 75 ##
Brantford 9 31 244 24 63 163 33 94 185
Calgary 327 430 31 764 716 -6 1,091 1,146 5
Edmonton 387 498 29 378 716 89 765 1,214 59
Greater Sudbury 29 28 -3 34 2 -94 63 30 -52
Guelph 29 18 -38 4 8 100 33 26 -21
Halifax 72 83 15 148 194 31 220 277 26
Hamilton 87 52 -40 293 204 -30 380 256 -33
Kelowna 52 87 67 143 41 -71 195 128 -34
Kingston 43 42 -2 18 18 - 61 60 -2
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo 133 69 -48 529 304 -43 662 373 -44
Lethbridge ** 45 ## ** 18 ## ** 63 ##
London 138 197 43 41 38 -7 179 235 31
Moncton 30 37 23 21 17 -19 51 54 6
Montréal 261 275 5 1,090 1,553 42 1,351 1,828 35
Oshawa 92 100 9 81 9 -89 173 109 -37
Ottawa-Gatineau 177 276 56 392 1,015 159 569 1,291 127
Gatineau 17 62 265 141 427 203 158 489 209
Ottawa 160 214 34 251 588 134 411 802 95
Peterborough 60 32 -47 0 15 ## 60 47 -22
Québec 64 118 84 428 364 -15 492 482 -2
Regina 58 84 45 142 105 -26 200 189 -6
Saguenay 24 16 -33 10 10 - 34 26 -24
St. Catharines-Niagara 207 155 -25 65 94 45 272 249 -8
Saint John 12 26 117 2 1 -50 14 27 93
St. John's 58 79 36 15 60 300 73 139 90
Saskatoon 122 111 -9 65 89 37 187 200 7
Sherbrooke 26 12 -54 38 36 -5 64 48 -25
Thunder Bay 23 16 -30 4 2 -50 27 18 -33
Toronto 1,140 928 -19 2,359 2,864 21 3,499 3,792 8
Trois-Rivières 12 27 125 40 34 -15 52 61 17
Vancouver 495 492 -1 1,618 1,906 18 2,113 2,398 13
Victoria 89 84 -6 215 611 184 304 695 129
Windsor
Canada

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