Published On: Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Western Canada Housing Starts Up in December

Western Canada Housing Starts Up in December

WESTERN CANADA - The trend in housing starts was up slightly, with 226,777 units in December 2017, compared to 226,178 units in November 2017, according to early January figures from the 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.

“Despite the variation in activity across the country, the national trend in housing starts held steady at its highest level since 2008,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist. “Apartment starts in urban centres were up 6.2 per cent in 2017 compared to 2016.”

Metro Victoria finished 2017 with historically high housing starts. Multi-family structures accounted for the majority of housing starts, with elevated rental market starts pushing the total starts to its highest level since 1976.

December of 2017 reflected this trend, with a 70 per cent increase in multi-family starts compared to the previous year. Metro Victoria’s housing market showed strong price growth and overheating throughout the year, giving builders and developers strong incentive to break ground on new projects.

Total housing starts in the Vancouver region increased in December 2017, compared to the previous month, after posting one of the highest levels of monthly multi-family starts for the year.

In particular, apartment condominium starts were elevated in Vancouver, Richmond and Coquitlam as low inventories on the resale market continue to encourage new development. Although total starts in 2017 were lower than 2016 due to constraints in construction labour and equipment, new home construction remained strong from a historical point-of-view due to continued demand for housing.

The trend in total housing starts declined in December 2017 as the pace of single-detached and multiple construction decreased compared to the previous month. 

Despite the decline in the trend, total actual housing starts for 2017 were up 25 per cent year-over-year. The housing market in Calgary has been recovering from the economic slowdown. Consumer confidence and labour market conditions have improved while the population continued to increase. This has helped support demand for new housing.

HousingStartsCMHC December2017

The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 216,980 units in December, down from 251,675 units in November. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 15.1 per cent in December to 198,132 units. Canada-wide multiple urban starts decreased by 22 per cent to 135,176 units in December. Single-detached urban starts increased by 4.7 per cent to 62,956 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 18,848 units.

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