Housing starts decline as urban multi-family spike ends

by Steve Randall11 Jun 2018

Canadian housing starts declined in May as overall multi-family construction in urban areas weakened.

CMHC’s 6-month moving average shows 216,362 starts in May compared to 225,481 in April.

"In May, the national trend in housing starts declined following several months of stability," said Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist. "This reflects a decline in multi-unit urban starts in May that leaves them close to their 10-year average following several months of historically elevated levels."

The figures show a divergence in construction trends in the two hottest markets.

Vancouver saw continued growth in multi-family, which led overall gains. Multifamily starts increased 9% in the past year.

Toronto, by contrast, saw fewer overall starts and this was notable in the multifamily sector. CMHC says that the CMA’s stronger supply of existing units and higher mortgage costs are key factors.

Langford saw strong gains for condo starts in Metro Victoria and the metro as a whole has seen increased building activity especially in rental units.

Multifamily has also led to a rise in overall starts for Saskatoon while it was single-family homes that increased most in Brantford due to more affordable home prices than nearby Hamilton.

Although multiple units led construction in some markets, nationally they declined 16.4% in the standalone monthly figure (seasonally adjusted annual rate) to 119,811 units while single-family units increased 2% to 58,390. Overall, the monthly figure was down 11.1% to 178,201.

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