Housing starts up in 2017


Housing starts in Canada continue to increase, reports the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). There were 217,550 new home starts in July, compared to 215,175 units in June. (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 chief economist. “British Columbia and Alberta were the main contributors to the higher trend in housing starts. While B.C.’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.”

CMHC reports July housing activity in some of Canada’s metropolitan areas as follows:


Total housing starts in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area were lower in July. Lower 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 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 Greater Vancouver remains near record highs, and developers will be keeping an eye on market conditions as these projects are completed in the coming year.


After a slow start, the trend in new home construction this year has increased, moving closer in line with historical averages. Multiple unit starts in particular have been strong in recent months, including July, despite inventories sitting at near record highs.


July housing starts trended up on the back of strong multiple unit 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.


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.


Housing starts in Greater Sudbury were 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 continued to show strength in July with year-over-year starts increasing by 15 and 31 percent, 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.


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