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After reporting a slight increase in November, the moving trend for Canadian housing starts dropped in December 2021 according to the latest data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Last month, the trend in housing starts equalled 260,567 units, a decline from the 267,606 units logged in November.

This trend measure, according to CMHC, is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. The trend measure is used as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to “account for considerable swings in monthly estimates,” according to the organization, as well as to get a more complete picture of Canada’s overall housing market.

Despite the six-month starts trend dipping between November and December, CMHC’s chief economist, Bob Dugan, explained in the data report that the trend in housing starts still remains at very high levels.

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“For SAAR housing starts in Canada’s urban areas, both single-detached and multi-family starts decreased in December,” said Dugan. “On a positive note, actual urban housing starts were 21 per cent higher in 2021, adding much needed supply. The increase was driven by higher single-detached (28 per cent) and multi-family (19 per cent) starts and was mainly due to recovery following COVID-19 shutdown measures in 2020.”

On a trend and monthly SAAR basis, housing starts activity nationwide remains high in historical terms. In December, the standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts across the country was 236,106 units, a 22 per cent decrease from the 303,813 units reported in November.

The SAAR of urban starts fell 24 per cent last month to 212,918 units, as multiple urban starts dropped 29 per cent to 157,687 units in December. Meanwhile, single-detached urban starts also declined, dropping four per cent to 55,231 units. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 23,188 units.

Between Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, the latter was the only market to report growth in total SAAR starts during December as a result of higher single-detached and multi-family starts. In Toronto and Montreal, the SAAR of housing starts between November and December decreased 58 per cent and 37 per cent, but rose 41 per cent in Vancouver.

CMHC considers a housing start to be when construction begins on a building where a dwelling unit is located, usually 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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