The trend in housing starts was 206,981 units in December 2018, compared to 212,338 units in November 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.

"The national trend in housing starts decreased in December, the fifth decline in the last six months," said Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist. "Reflecting these recent declines, total annual housing starts in 2018 were lower than in 2017, as lower single-detached starts more than offset a slight increase in multi-family starts this year. Nonetheless, total housing starts remain elevated when compared to historical averages."

Monthly Highlights

Vancouver

Housing starts in the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) continued trending lower in December 2018, ending the year with an 11% decrease compared to 2017 despite that rental units rose by 40% in response to a tight rental market. City of Vancouver’s rental and condo sectors are the top two drivers to the annual housing starts. Surrey led the overall decline with housing starts down by 27% in 2018.

Victoria

Total year-to-date housing starts initiated in Metro Victoria reached a level not seen since 1976 in December. Rental units were half of all housing starts in 2018 in response to heightened rental demand and low vacancy rates.

Edmonton

Edmonton housing starts trended lower in December as inventory levels remained elevated. On an annual basis, Edmonton starts were 12% below 2017 levels, which reflects lower demand driven by the current economic climate in Alberta. Starts for all types of units were lower, except for row units, which grew by 13%.

Regina

December total housing starts trended lower due to a decline in multi-family construction. In 2018, housing starts in the Regina CMA declined by 41% to 1,139 units from 1,923 in 2017. Single-detached starts declined by 47%, while multi-family starts were lower by 37%, compared to the previous year. A weak labour market, tighter credit market conditions, rising construction costs and elevated resale supply - all combined to reduce demand for newly constructed homes.

Kingston

Kingston recorded the highest number of starts in any given month since September 2013. Rental apartments accounted for 77% of total starts in December. These new rental units will contribute needed supply to the market, as the apartment vacancy rate in Kingston has been trending lower since 2016. The total number of housing starts in 2018 was significantly above the 5-year average, with gains for all dwelling types.

Toronto

In 2018, the Toronto CMA saw the most apartment starts ever recorded and overall housing starts were up 6% from a year ago. High prices, borrowing costs, and a widening price gap with resale market alternatives weighed down significantly on single-detached starts, which were the lowest in almost four decades. The deteriorating affordability for low-rise homes has fueled the demand for relatively affordable higher-density housing.

Hamilton

Annual housing starts in Hamilton CMA were the highest since 2004, despite the trend measure moving down in December. Apartment starts were primarily responsible for the high number of overall housing starts in 2018, having reached their highest level in over 40 years. In 2018, more buyers gravitated to less expensive homes and competition for vacant rental units intensified, both of which led to greater demand for new apartments. The appetite for new apartments was widespread across Hamilton CMA in 2018, occurring in each of three major markets, Burlington, Hamilton and Grimsby.

Brantford

A high number of housing starts for December helped annual starts to surpass the 700 mark for just the second time in the past ten years. The price point of new low-rise homes in Brantford attracted more growing families and empty nesters from nearby Hamilton and West GTA markets compared to most years. Single-detached starts rebounded from a slow 2017, while row starts continued to trend up to their highest level since CMHC began tracking starts activity in Brantford over 40 years ago.

Montréal

Housing starts in the Montréal area increased slightly in 2018 compared to 2017 (+1%). The decline recorded in the construction of condos (-6%) during this period was more than offset by rental apartment starts (+8%) which hit a 30-year record high. Just under half of all housing starts in the Montreal CMA in 2018 were intended for the rental market, including starts of rental retirement homes. However, most rental starts were intended for the larger non-retirement home sector. Relatively low vacancy rates, the aging population, and stronger demand from young households were likely all factors that stimulated residential construction in the rental market segment.

Province of Québec

The total number of housing starts in Quebec’s urban areas in 2018 was practically the same as in 2017. Residential construction in the past year continued to be supported by multi-unit housing starts, a large part of which were rental housing units. This was the case notably in Montréal and Québec. Overall, the growth in the supply of apartments in the province was stimulated by the aging of the population and by immigration.

Halifax

Total housing starts in Halifax picked up pace in December due to a rise in apartment construction. By year-end 2018, multiples starts were up 6% compared to 2017 figures, driven by strong rental demand and migration. Apartment construction in 2018 was predominantly located in the suburban markets of Hammonds Plains and Mainland North, as well as on the Halifax Peninsula.

Prince Edward Island (PEI)

Total housing starts in PEI were 156% higher in December compared to a year ago. Singles were up by 9% and multiples by 347%, which contributed directly to the considerable monthly increase. This was driven by new multi-unit apartment and seniors’ condo projects, in reaction to a near zero vacancy rate on the Island. For 2018, total starts were up 26%, driven primarily by strong job growth and positive international immigration throughout the 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 213,419 units in December, down from 224,349 units in November. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 5.8% in December to 194,594 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 6.8% to 144,728 units in December while single-detached urban starts decreased by 2.6% to 49,866 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 18,825 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.

For more information, follow us on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

Information on this Release:

Angelina Ritacco
Media Relations, CMHC
416-218-3320
aritacco@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Table 1: Preliminary Housing Start Data in Centres 10,000 Population and Over
Single-Detached  All Others Total
December 2017 December 2018   % December 2017 December 2018   % December 2017 December 2018   %
Provinces (10,000+)
N.-L. 77 39 -49 56 18 -68 133 57 -57
P.E.I. 22 24 9 17 76 347 39 100 156
N.S. 109 125 15 167 269 61 276 394 43
N.B. 60 52 -13 103 123 19 163 175 7
Atlantic 268 240 -10 343 486 42 611 726 19
Qc 542 472 -13 4,101 4,152 1 4,643 4,624 0
Ont. 2,103 1,657 -21 2,938 3,992 36 5,041 5,649 12
Man. 223 144 -35 351 297 -15 574 441 -23
Sask. 121 104 -14 194 37 -81 315 141 -55
Alta. 984 697 -29 703 734 4 1,687 1,431 -15
Prairies 1,328 945 -29 1,248 1,068 -14 2,576 2,013 -22
B.C. 843 725 -14 3,169 3,216 1 4,012 3,941 -2
Canada (10,000+) 5,084 4,039 -21 11,799 12,914 9 16,883 16,953 0
Metroplolitan Areas
Abbotsford-Mission 26 33 27 13 258 ## 39 291 ##
Barrie 28 13 -54 43 0 -100 71 13 -82
Belleville 37 27 -27 67 4 -94 104 31 -70
Brantford 11 10 -9 2 62 ## 13 72 454
Calgary 349 223 -36 334 307 -8 683 530 -22
Edmonton 412 332 -19 305 306 0 717 638 -11
Greater Sudbury 6 8 33 4 4 - 10 12 20
Guelph 30 14 -53 80 153 91 110 167 52
Halifax 89 63 -29 166 237 43 255 300 18
Hamilton 59 15 -75 268 119 -56 327 134 -59
Kelowna 84 65 -23 177 219 24 261 284 9
Kingston 55 25 -55 17 213 ## 72 238 231
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo 57 79 39 138 75 -46 195 154 -21
Lethbridge 45 33 -27 22 12 -45 67 45 -33
London 150 103 -31 52 33 -37 202 136 -33
Moncton 13 9 -31 35 105 200 48 114 138
Montréal 232 165 -29 3,151 2,741 -13 3,383 2,906 -14
Oshawa 117 63 -46 18 54 200 135 117 -13
Ottawa-Gatineau 308 260 -16 599 298 -50 907 558 -38
  Gatineau 48 51 6 48 40 -17 96 91 -5
  Ottawa 260 209 -20 551 258 -53 811 467 -42
Peterborough 32 23 -28 24 13 -46 56 36 -36
Québec 52 29 -44 390 652 67 442 681 54
Regina 29 24 -17 35 17 -51 64 41 -36
Saguenay 16 13 -19 30 31 3 46 44 -4
St. Catharines-Niagara 152 66 -57 26 145 458 178 211 19
Saint John 12 21 75 26 1 -96 38 22 -42
St. John's 62 30 -52 39 15 -62 101 45 -55
Saskatoon 76 74 -3 144 14 -90 220 88 -60
Sherbrooke 32 25 -22 52 41 -21 84 66 -21
Thunder Bay 3 6 100 0 0 - 3 6 100
Toronto 767 540 -30 1,473 2,654 80 2,240 3,194 43
Trois-Rivières 12 16 33 45 82 82 57 98 72
Vancouver 402 375 -7 2,306 1,637 -29 2,708 2,012 -26
Victoria 70 43 -39 134 732 446 204 775 280
Windsor 35 45 29 2 8 300 37 53 43
Winnipeg 181 119 -34 322 210 -35 503 329 -35
Total 4,041 2,989 -26 10,539 11,452 9 14,580 14,441 -1

Data for 2017 based on 2016 Census Definitions.
Data for 2018 based on 2016 Census Definitions.
Source:  Market Analysis Centre, CMHC
## not calculable / extreme value

 

Table 2: Preliminary Housing Start Data - Seasonally Adjusted at Annual Rates (SAAR)
  Single-Detached All Others Total
November 2018 December 2018  % November 2018 December 2018  % November 2018 December 2018  %
Provinces (10,000+)
N.L. 510 394 -23 206 222 8 716 616 -14
P.E.I. 302 374 24 1,536 912 -41 1,838 1,286 -30
N.S. 1,227 1,325 8 1,819 3,223 77 3,046 4,548 49
N.B. 679 640 -6 1,769 1,740 -2 2,448 2,380 -3
Qc 6,505 6,026 -7 36,039 38,383 7 42,544 44,409 4
Ont. 19,751 19,099 -3 63,116 48,689 -23 82,867 67,788 -18
Man. 2,408 2,179 -10 6,372 3,564 -44 8,780 5,743 -35
Sask. 1,193 1,330 11 744 444 -40 1,937 1,774 -8
Alta. 9,266 8,812 -5 15,469 9,121 -41 24,735 17,933 -27
B.C. 9,354 9,687 4 28,263 38,430 36 37,617 48,117 28
Canada (10,000+) 51,195 49,866 -3 155,333 144,728 -7 206,528 194,594 -6
Canada (All Areas) 64,246 63,650 -1 160,102 149,768 -6 224,349 213,419 -5
Metropolitan Areas
Abbotsford-Mission 314 412 31 324 3,096 ## 638 3,508 450
Barrie 187 253 35 24 0 -100 211 253 20
Belleville 441 326 -26 240 48 -80 681 374 -45
Brantford 446 187 -58 1,308 744 -43 1,754 931 -47
Calgary 3,250 2,876 -12 6,444 3,684 -43 9,694 6,560 -32
Edmonton 4,039 4,056 0 7,488 3,672 -51 11,527 7,728 -33
Greater Sudbury 108 117 8 24 48 100 132 165 25
Guelph 264 196 -26 912 1,836 101 1,176 2,032 73
Halifax 831 626 -25 1,140 2,844 149 1,971 3,470 76
Hamilton 437 193 -56 1,824 1,428 -22 2,261 1,621 -28
Kelowna 600 661 10 3,660 2,628 -28 4,260 3,289 -23
Kingston 336 286 -15 336 2,556 ## 672 2,842 323
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo 910 939 3 2,736 900 -67 3,646 1,839 -50
Lethbridge 269 311 16 108 144 33 377 455 21
London 1,390 1,421 2 1,368 396 -71 2,758 1,817 -34
Moncton 202 149 -26 1,320 1,260 -5 1,522 1,409 -7
Montréal 2,701 2,283 -15 26,356 32,750 24 29,057 35,033 21
Oshawa 1,163 904 -22 3,360 648 -81 4,523 1,552 -66
Ottawa-Gatineau 2,961 2,626 -11 7,008 3,576 -49 9,969 6,202 -38
Gatineau 393 526 34 2,772 480 -83 3,165 1,006 -68
Ottawa 2,568 2,100 -18 4,236 3,096 -27 6,804 5,196 -24
Peterborough 307 274 -11 0 156 ## 307 430 40
Québec 938 463 -51 5,712 7,824 37 6,650 8,287 25
Regina 201 344 71 312 204 -35 513 548 7
Saguenay 188 168 -11 168 372 121 356 540 52
St. Catharines-Niagara 554 706 27 792 1,740 120 1,346 2,446 82
Saint John 226 248 10 72 12 -83 298 260 -13
St. John's 422 290 -31 180 180 - 602 470 -22
Saskatoon 891 869 -2 384 168 -56 1,275 1,037 -19
Sherbrooke 235 358 52 1,656 492 -70 1,891 850 -55
Thunder Bay 99 169 71 180 0 -100 279 169 -39
Toronto 5,417 5,510 2 42,816 31,848 -26 48,233 37,358 -23
Trois-Rivières 217 193 -11 600 984 64 817 1,177 44
Vancouver 4,873 5,125 5 17,232 19,644 14 22,105 24,769 12
Victoria 709 699 -1 2,244 8,784 291 2,953 9,483 221
Windsor 638 686 8 984 96 -90 1,622 782 -52
Winnipeg 2,172 1,852 -15 5,112 2,520 -51 7,284 4,372 -40

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

Date Published: January 9, 2019