We hope economists have enough brooms and dust pans in their offices to clean up all their shattered expectations.

New home construction jumped more than expected in December, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reported today. The rise was primarily attributed to multi-unit starts in urban centres like Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of starts was 200,200 units in December, up from 185,600 units in November. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted starts to total 185,500 in December.

Groovy stuff! Here’s a little extra insight on these numbers from the Financial Post and CMHC:

“The increase posted in December was mainly attributable to the multiple urban starts, particularly in Ontario and in Atlantic Canada”, said Mathieu Laberge, CMHC’s deputy chief economist.

Urban housing starts were up 10.1% to 181,900 units in December, with single-unit activity rising 3.8% to 70,600 units and multiple urban construction up 14.5% to 111,300 units.”

In a separate article, the trusty Financial Post went further in their analysis of the CMHC figures. They noted that condos were “still king in 2011”, pointing to construction trends that have been leaning solidly toward high-rises since early 2010. There was a large gap between multi-unit starts and single unit starts, the largest, in fact, since 1990.

Quoted in the Post article, Robert Kavcic, economist with BMO Capital Markets, explained that although overall homebuilding looks relatively balanced, the supply situation is becoming much tighter for detached homes when compared to condos.

Sounds like a pretty healthy conclusion to 2011, especially for condos. Bring on 2012!

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