Housing starts slow to 19-month low

By Steve Randall

Canada’s homebuilders began fewer projects in the six months to September according to new data.

CMHC’s 6-month moving measure of the seasonally-adjusted annual rate of housing starts for the month shows 207,768 units, down from 213,966 in August. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 188,683 units in September, down from 198,843 units in August.

"The national trend in housing starts stood at a 19-month low in September, following declines in four of the last five months," said Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist. "The slowdown in the pace of new residential construction activity in recent months is a result of both lower single-detached and multi-starts activity and brings new residential construction closer to its long run average from the elevated levels registered in 2017."

The highlights
Strong demand in Vancouver maintained the year-to-date pace of new home construction seen in 2017 but starts trended lower in September. A quarter of starts were in Surrey.

Toronto saw strong multi-family starts especially in the semi-detached sector, offsetting a decline in single-family homes to create an upward trend overall.

Rental apartment starts pushed the year-to-date total for Quebec higher than the same period of 2017 although overall starts decreased in the third quarter of 2018.

Total housing starts in Winnipeg continued to trend higher in September with several new condo projects started. While year-to-date multi-family starts are 3% above the same period of 2017,  total housing starts remain 5% below 2017 production as rising inventories of single-detached units have slowed activity in this segment of the market.

For the first time in four months, St. Catharines-Niagara CMA housing starts trended higher, mainly due to the apartment sector. New single-detached construction continued to slow, reaching the lowest monthly level in seven years.

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