Photo: Avel Chuklanov / Unsplash

Fuelled by a surge of multi-family projects, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) found the six-month trend in national housing starts increased last month after a recent decline.

In a report released today, CMHC stated the trend in Canadian housing starts rose to 267,365 units in November, an increase from 264,583 units in October although down from the 270,661 units reported in September.

“The six-month trend in housing starts was higher from October to November, with total starts rebounding from their declines in prior months,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist.

The trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjust annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts, CMHC explained. To account for swings in monthly estimates and to gain a “more complete picture of Canada’s housing market,” CMHC uses the trend measure to complement the monthly SAAR in starts.

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The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts across the country was 301,279 units in November. This marked an increase of 26 per cent from October, when there were 238,366 units.

Multiple urban starts increased by 41 per cent to 221,153 units in November, while single-detached urban starts dipped by one per cent to 58,243 units.

“For SAAR housing starts in Canada’s urban areas, there was a slight decrease in single-detached starts, while multi-family starts experienced a large increase in November, resulting in higher overall starts for the month,” Dugan said.

Dugan noted that housing start activity remains high in historical terms on both a trend and monthly SAAR basis.

Among Canada’s largest cities — Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver — the latter was the only market to see housing starts decline in November, while Toronto saw a significant increase thanks to the multi-family segment more than doubling from the previous month.

The SAAR for urban starts rose by 29 per cent in November to 279,396 units. Rural starts had an estimated SAAR of 21,883 units.

​​CMHC defines a housing start as when construction begins on a building where a dwelling unit is located, typically when concrete has been poured for the footing around the structure, or the equivalent stage when a basement is not a part of the structure.

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