housing starts in canada

Photo: James Bombales

Canadian housing starts rebounded last month with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reporting 189,708 units as the standalone monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), up from 151,238 in February. The tally is notably higher than the 175,000 starts economists had predicted for March.

Urban starts also saw a significant month-to-month increase with the SAAR rising to 177,459, an increase of 28.1 per cent. The surge was mostly due to condo building: multiple urban starts rose 48.2 per cent to 125,263 units, while single-detached starts decreased by 3.4 per cent to 52,196 units.

Monthly construction activity rose in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and, yes, even the Prairies, while it decreased in Atlantic Canada.

March counted 13,043 actual starts in urban areas, up from 10,019 units the same period in 2014. Much like the month-to-month SAAR, the increase in actual starts was due to an uptick in multiple urban starts which came to 9,954 units last month, up from 6,716 the year before. Meanwhile, singles plateaued with 3,303 in March 2014 and 3,089 last month.

Despite these increases, the CMHC’s long view of the construction activity was much more subdued. The six-month moving average of the SAAR was 179,016 units in March compared to 180,236 in February.

“Despite recent month-to-month changes in the SAAR, the trend in housing starts essentially held steady in March compared to February,” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre.

“However, the trend in housing construction has moved lower since September 2014, partly reflecting efforts to manage the level of completed but unsold units.”

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