Canadian housing starts trend stable in March

OTTAWA, April 10, 2018 — The trend in housing starts was 226,842 units in March 2018, compared to 225,804 units in February 2018, 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 March, the national trend in housing starts was stable for the fifth consecutive month, as diverging trends for multi-unit and single-detached dwellings continue to offset each other,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist. “Over this period, multi-unit starts have trended higher in most major urban centres while single-detached starts have trended lower.”

Monthly highlights

Vancouver

Rising March housing starts capped off a strong first quarter in starts in the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA). Starts of multifamily condominium and rental units led the increase, with activity concentrated in the core areas of the City of Vancouver, Richmond, and North Vancouver in the first quarter of this year. Demand for new homes continues to be supported by strong migration, household formation and employment growth in the region.

Victoria

Housing starts in Metro Victoria appear to be moving in different directions with single-detached and apartment units diverging. Overall, the total starts are trending downward from a peak in late 2017. However, apartment starts were 77% above the March 2017 year-to-date figures, while single detached starts were down 32%. Inventory in single-detached units has shown signs of accumulation, but remains below average.

Edmonton

Housing starts in the Edmonton CMA continued to trend lower in March due in part to a declining trend in multi-family construction where inventory levels remain elevated. Weakness in multi-family construction lowered actual total housing starts for the month of March, down 44% compared to March of last year.

Toronto

Led by condominium apartment starts, the total number of housing starts in the Toronto CMA trended up to reach a seven month high during March. Relatively affordable prices of condominium apartments continued to draw price weary buyers towards purchasing pre-construction units, particularly within the City of Toronto, and thus drove up their construction. High house prices and tighter borrowing conditions weighed on demand for single and semi-detached homes and consequently their starts trended lower.

St. Catharines-Niagara

The St. Catharines-Niagara CMA saw 165 total actual starts in March, the highest recorded for the month since 1992. The trend towards relatively more affordable higher-density housing continued with multi-units accounting for 73% of total starts, up from 41% last March. Weaker employment conditions and rising housing prices continue to favour a mix toward more affordable housing driving multi-unit starts.

Brantford

Housing starts trended up in Brantford due to single-detached starts, which were already high in January and February. The strong March allowed single-detached starts to reach its highest first quarter total in over 10 years. A primary driver behind the increased demand for new single-detached homes in Brantford has been Greater Toronto and Hamilton area buyers seeking more affordable housing options.

Province of Québec

The level of housing starts for the total aggregate of Quebec’s urban centres remained stable in the first quarter, in both the single-detached home and multi-unit housing segments. Apartment starts decreased in all of the province’s census metropolitan areas (CMAs) except in the Québec CMA, where an increase was recorded in the first quarter. The increase for that segment in the Québec CMA offset the decreases in the other CMAs of the province.

Halifax

The single-detached market in Halifax continues to expand over the first quarter, up 42% compared to the same period last year. Despite the price differential, with the number of active listings on the resale market remaining low, buyers may be increasingly looking to the new home market to meet their purchasing needs. On the contrary, construction in the typically busy multiples market has slowed over the first quarter, down 37% year-over-year.

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 225,213 units in March, down from 231,026 units in February. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 2.8% in March to 208,237 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 7.3% to 144,578 units in March while single-detached urban starts increased by 9.5% to 63,659 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16,976 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:

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
Mar. 2017 Mar. 2018 % Mar. 2017 Mar. 2018 % Mar. 2017 Mar. 2018 %
Provinces (10,000+)
N.-L. 8 13 63 13 93 ## 21 106 405
P.E.I. 20 12 -40 2 6 200 22 18 -18
N.S. 61 99 62 10 25 150 71 124 75
N.B. 5 7 40 55 3 -95 60 10 -83
Atlantic 94 131 39 80 127 59 174 258 48
Qc 378 388 3 2,958 2,449 -17 3,336 2,837 -15
Ont. 1,605 1,458 -9 4,080 3,435 -16 5,685 4,893 -14
Man. 254 180 -29 283 371 31 537 551 3
Sask. 134 79 -41 153 24 -84 287 103 -64
Alta. 719 801 11 1,801 1,091 -39 2,520 1,892 -25
Prairies 1,107 1,060 -4 2,237 1,486 -34 3,344 2,546 -24
B.C. 847 666 -21 2,741 3,080 12 3,588 3,746 4
Canada (10,000+) 4,031 3,703 -8 12,096 10,577 -13 16,127 14,280 -11
Metropolitan Areas                  
Abbotsford-Mission 44 19 -57 78 79 1 122 98 -20
Barrie 10 35 250 123 26 -79 133 61 -54
Belleville 16 13 -19 11 6 -45 27 19 -30
Brantford 11 32 191 4 4 - 15 36 140
Calgary 283 306 8 862 525 -39 1,145 831 -27
Edmonton 280 368 31 880 280 -68 1,160 648 -44
Greater Sudbury 1 0 -100 0 0 - 1 0 -100
Guelph 15 10 -33 108 60 -44 123 70 -43
Halifax 26 41 58 2 16 ## 28 57 104
Hamilton 25 19 -24 62 58 -6 87 77 -11
Kelowna 61 53 -13 441 108 -76 502 161 -68
Kingston 10 24 140 3 4 33 13 28 115
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo 132 102 -23 47 319 ## 179 421 135
Lethbridge 41 26 -37 18 15 -17 59 41 -31
London 114 122 7 125 23 -82 239 145 -39
Moncton 1 2 100 55 2 -96 56 4 -93
Montréal 163 154 -6 2,048 1,475 -28 2,211 1,629 -26
Oshawa 130 105 -19 16 66 313 146 171 17
Ottawa-Gatineau 127 201 58 429 241 -44 556 442 -21
Gatineau 23 23 - 322 32 -90 345 55 -84
Ottawa 104 178 71 107 209 95 211 387 83
Peterborough 7 8 14 2 0 -100 9 8 -11
Québec 53 71 34 199 482 142 252 553 119
Regina 52 36 -31 58 6 -90 110 42 -62
Saguenay 5 6 20 26 16 -38 31 22 -29
St. Catharines-Niagara 75 45 -40 52 120 131 127 165 30
Saint John 2 3 50 0 0 - 2 3 50
St. John's 7 10 43 0 93 ## 7 103 ##
Saskatoon 74 38 -49 93 13 -86 167 51 -69
Sherbrooke 20 28 40 87 118 36 107 146 36
Thunder Bay 0 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 -
Toronto 654 501 -23 3,190 2,376 -26 3,844 2,877 -25
Trois-Rivières 10 9 -10 12 10 -17 22 19 -14
Vancouver 442 326 -26 2,044 2,319 13 2,486 2,645 6
Victoria 81 50 -38 79 254 222 160 304 90
Windsor 58 22 -62 39 8 -79 97 30 -69
Winnipeg 210 155 -26 274 335 22 484 490 1
Total 3,240 2,940 -9 11,467 9,457 -18 14,707 12,397 -16

Data for 2017 based on 2016 Census Definitions.
Data for 2018 based on 2016 Census Definitions.
Source: Market Analysis Centre, CMHC

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Preliminary Housing Start Data — Seasonally Adjusted at Annual Rates (SAAR)
  Single-Detached All Others Total
Feb. 2018 Mar. 2018 % Feb. 2018 Mar. 2018 % Feb. 2018 Mar. 2018 %
Provinces (10,000+)  
N.L. 777 829 7 28 5,054 ## 805 5,883 ##
P.E.I. 343 466 36 288 72 -75 631 538 -15
N.S. 1,966 1,979 1 2,339 521 -78 4,305 2,500 -42
N.B. 751 634 -16 162 183 13 913 817 -11
Qc 6,002 6,571 9 37,764 39,452 4 43,766 46,023 5
Ont. 25,544 27,605 8 77,301 43,983 -43 102,845 71,588 -30
Man. 2,200 2,670 21 2,112 4,452 111 4,312 7,122 65
Sask. 1,425 1,478 4 1,752 288 -84 3,177 1,766 -44
Alta. 10,559 11,903 13 11,432 13,468 18 21,991 25,371 15
B.C. 8,566 9,524 11 22,843 37,105 62 31,409 46,629 48
Canada (10,000+) 58,133 63,659 10 156,021 144,578 -7 214,154 208,237 -3
Canada (All Areas) 70,745 76,621 8 160,281 148,590 -7 231,026 225,213 -3
Metropolitan Areas                  
Abbotsford-Mission 373 308 -17 360 948 163 733 1,256 71
Barrie 2,325 1,273 -45 888 312 -65 3,213 1,585 -51
Belleville 510 724 42 0 72 ## 510 796 56
Brantford 328 365 11 0 48 ## 328 413 26
Calgary 4,138 4,268 3 3,384 6,300 86 7,522 10,568 40
Edmonton 4,874 5,075 4 5,844 3,360 -43 10,718 8,435 -21
Greater Sudbury 114 43 -62 0 0 - 114 43 -62
Guelph 121 175 45 432 720 67 553 895 62
Halifax 871 815 -6 1,632 192 -88 2,503 1,007 -60
Hamilton 1,145 332 -71 1,152 696 -40 2,297 1,028 -55
Kelowna 312 862 176 180 1,296 ## 492 2,158 339
Kingston 289 511 77 192 48 -75 481 559 16
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo 1,757 1,667 -5 1,260 3,828 204 3,017 5,495 82
Lethbridge 416 410 -1 60 180 200 476 590 24
London 1,957 2,065 6 240 276 15 2,197 2,341 7
Moncton 319 302 -5 0 24 ## 319 326 2
Montréal 2,609 2,589 -1 24,385 17,684 -27 26,994 20,273 -25
Oshawa 1,587 1,838 16 72 792 ## 1,659 2,630 59
Ottawa-Gatineau 2,455 4,306 75 816 2,892 254 3,271 7,198 120
Gatineau 551 543 -1 120 384 220 671 927 38
Ottawa 1,904 3,763 98 696 2,508 260 2,600 6,271 141
Peterborough 645 633 -2 0 0 - 645 633 -2
Québec 263 989 276 504 5,784 ## 767 6,773 ##
Regina 526 476 -10 1,296 72 -94 1,822 548 -70
Saguenay 199 217 9 0 192 ## 199 409 106
St. Catharines-Niagara 1,191 919 -23 816 1,440 76 2,007 2,359 18
Saint John 131 201 53 0 0 - 131 201 53
St. John's 587 548 -7 24 1,116 ## 611 1,664 172
Saskatoon 686 750 9 396 156 -61 1,082 906 -16
Sherbrooke 244 352 44 996 1,416 42 1,240 1,768 43
Thunder Bay 136 135 -1 0 0 - 136 135 -1
Toronto 7,843 9,739 24 63,396 28,512 -55 71,239 38,251 -46
Trois-Rivières 393 264 -33 24 120 400 417 384 -8
Vancouver 4,088 4,600 13 16,164 27,828 72 20,252 32,428 60
Victoria 640 554 -13 3,132 3,048 -3 3,772 3,602 -5
Windsor 590 478 -19 516 96 -81 1,106 574 -48
Winnipeg 1,898 2,131 12 1,452 4,020 177 3,350 6,151 84

Data for 2017 based on 2016 Census Definitions.
Data for 2018 based on 2016 Census Definitions.
Source: Market Analysis Centre, CMHC

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Canada

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