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Canadian housing starts continued to climb in September after hitting a multi-year high in August.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for housing starts hit 230,701 units last month, up from a downwardly revised 214,255 in August, according to a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) report published today.

This translates to 20,792 starts countrywide, bolstered by 13,802 multi-unit starts.

For starts, the SAAR shows what the annual level would be should activity on any given month persist all year. It is based on monthly numbers that are multiplied by 12, with seasonal ups and downs removed.

Meanwhile, the trend measure — a six-month moving average of the SAAR — reached 202,506 units in September. This is its highest level since January 2013. In August, the trend was 195,804.

“This underscores the continuing need for inventory management to minimize the number of completed but unsold units,” says Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist.

CMHC explained in the report that the trend measure compensates for short-term fluctuations seen in monthly SAAR estimates which can be deceiving as they’re impacted by spikes in multi-unit starts.

Dugan attributed the higher trend measure to a number of large-scale rental starts as well as the condo market’s strong performance.

September’s SAAR for urban starts was 216,194 units, an increase of 7.7 per cent from the month before. CMHC defines an urban centre as an area with population of 10,000 or greater.

Multi-unit urban starts were at a SAAR of 157,919 units last month, a 10.5 per cent increase over August.

The SAAR for single-detached home starts in urban centres inched up 0.8 per cent to 58,275.

Of all areas tracked — Atlantic Canada, Quebec, the Prairies, British Columbia, and Ontario — only Ontario saw a month-over-month decline in the SAAR for urban starts.

Starts in urban Ontario nudged down to a SAAR of 89,114 last month, a 4.1 per cent decrease from the month before. However, it’s worth noting that the area with the second-highest number of urban starts in September was the Prairies at a SAAR of 45,691, a 13.4 per cent increase over August.

It was Quebec’s urban centres, though, that experienced the most growth. The SAAR for these areas was 45,291 in September. That’s 26.5 per cent higher than it was in August, when the SAAR was 35,803.

Starts in British Columbia’s urban centres climbed 7.4 per cent to a SAAR of 27,331, and in the Atlantic region, the SAAR was up 41.9 per cent to 8,767.

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