Multi-family market significantly boosted Vancouver starts

by Ephraim Vecina12 Jun 2019

New multi-family construction was predominant among Vancouver’s housing starts last month, according to latest data from the CMHC.

The asset class represented as much as 90% of the market’s total starts activity in May. Furthermore, new construction volume for non-single-detached housing had an enormous 75% annual gain.

“Two thirds of the new units were located in Burnaby, Surrey, and Coquitlam, which together saw a number of condominium and rental apartment projects get underway,” CMHC stated.

Similarly, Montreal enjoyed a significant 30% year-over-year increase in multi-family starts. The CMHC pointed out that this “solely attributable to rental housing construction, as condominium and single-family home starts recorded decreases.

“The low vacancy rates on the conventional rental market and the greater proportion of young households now opting for rental housing have kept stimulating rental housing starts.”

Meanwhile, Toronto’s total starts dropped by 16% last month. Non-single-detached construction grew by a comparatively weak 10% annually.

“High homeownership costs continue to weigh on the demand for single-detached and row houses thus resulting in fewer low-rise home starts. Strong pre-construction sales of condominium apartment units over the past two years will continue to translate into starts over time at a varied pace, despite their starts trending lower in May.”

Overall starts across Canada were at 201,983 units last month. This was markedly lower than April’s 205,717 starts, mainly due to a much slower single-family market.

“The national trend in housing starts decreased in May as a result of continuing decline in the trend for single starts as well as a decline in the trend of multi-unit starts that follows gains in this segment in recent months, in urban areas,” CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan said.

“The decrease in the trend of multi-unit starts reflects a decline in the SAAR level of multi-unit activity in May from the unusually elevated level registered in April, which leaves multi-unit SAAR starts closer to its 10-year average.”

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