In February, the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for housing starts was 156,276, a drop from 187,025 units in January.
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), urban housing starts totalled 140,722 in February, down from 171,950 in January. The fall in the SAAR for starts was widespread, with eight of the 10 provinces seeing a drop. The decline was in large part due to fewer multiple urban starts, which includes condo building. They reached 86,214 units in February after totalling 115,123 the previous month. Starts for single-family homes also fell, albeit not as dramatically: the SAAR was 54,508 units in February, down from 56,827 in January.
“The trend in housing starts decreased for a fifth consecutive month in February and reflects a decreasing trend in multiple starts,” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre.
“The declining trend in multiple starts is helping to gradually erode the inventory of completed and unsold units, which is high compared to historical levels.”
The building boom in the GTA has long concerned economists worried about oversupply. Construction appears to be tapering off somewhat in the province, with Ontario reporting a rate of 42,617 starts in February, down from 58,785 in the month before. However, it could be due to the cold snap since parts of Southern Ontario experienced record-breaking cold last month.
As for the Prairies, which has seen home sales plunge in major cities like Calgary, building activity also slowed considerably. The CMHC counted 49,526 starts for the SAAR in urban areas, down from 53,261 in January.
British Columbia recorded a small month-to-month decline in urban starts (25,065 in January to 22,273 in February), as did Quebec (26,498 in January to 23,815 in February). Atlantic Canada saw a steep decline as the SAAR for urban starts fell from 8,341 to 2,491.
The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates also edged down from 188,761 units in January to 182,137 units in February.