Canadian Housing Starts Trend Decreases in December

  1/9/2019 |   SHARE
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CMHC News

The trend in housing starts was 206,981 units in December 2018, compared to 212,338 units in November 2018, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.

"The national trend in housing starts decreased in December, the fifth decline in the last six months," said Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist. "Reflecting these recent declines, total annual housing starts in 2018 were lower than in 2017, as lower single-detached starts more than offset a slight increase in multi-family starts this year. Nonetheless, total housing starts remain elevated when compared to historical averages."

Monthly Highlights

Vancouver 
Housing starts in the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) continued trending lower in December 2018, ending the year with an 11% decrease compared to 2017 despite that rental units rose by 40% in response to a tight rental market. City of Vancouver's rental and condo sectors are the top two drivers to the annual housing starts. Surrey led the overall decline with housing starts down by 27% in 2018.

Victoria
Total year-to-date housing starts initiated in Metro Victoria reached a level not seen since 1976 in December. Rental units were half of all housing starts in 2018 in response to heightened rental demand and low vacancy rates.

Edmonton 
Edmonton housing starts trended lower in December as inventory levels remained elevated. On an annual basis, Edmonton starts were 12% below 2017 levels, which reflects lower demand driven by the current economic climate in Alberta. Starts for all types of units were lower, except for row units, which grew by 13%.

Regina 
December total housing starts trended lower due to a decline in multi-family construction. In 2018, housing starts in the Regina CMA declined by 41% to 1,139 units from 1,923 in 2017. Single-detached starts declined by 47%, while multi-family starts were lower by 37%, compared to the previous year. A weak labour market, tighter credit market conditions, rising construction costs and elevated resale supply - all combined to reduce demand for newly constructed homes.

Kingston
Kingston recorded the highest number of starts in any given month since September 2013. Rental apartments accounted for 77% of total starts in December. These new rental units will contribute needed supply to the market, as the apartment vacancy rate inKingston has been trending lower since 2016. The total number of housing starts in 2018 was significantly above the 5-year average, with gains for all dwelling types.

Toronto
In 2018, the Toronto CMA saw the most apartment starts ever recorded and overall housing starts were up 6% from a year ago. High prices, borrowing costs, and a widening price gap with resale market alternatives weighed down significantly on single-detached starts, which were the lowest in almost four decades. The deteriorating affordability for low-rise homes has fueled the demand for relatively affordable higher-density housing.

Hamilton
Annual housing starts in Hamilton CMA were the highest since 2004, despite the trend measure moving down in December. Apartment starts were primarily responsible for the high number of overall housing starts in 2018, having reached their highest level in over 40 years. In 2018, more buyers gravitated to less expensive homes and competition for vacant rental units intensified, both of which led to greater demand for new apartments. The appetite for new apartments was widespread across Hamilton CMA in 2018, occurring in each of three major markets, Burlington, Hamilton and Grimsby.

Brantford
A high number of housing starts for December helped annual starts to surpass the 700 mark for just the second time in the past ten years. The price point of new low-rise homes in Brantford attracted more growing families and empty nesters from nearby Hamilton and West GTA markets compared to most years. Single-detached starts rebounded from a slow 2017, while row starts continued to trend up to their highest level since CMHC began tracking starts activity in Brantford over 40 years ago.

Montréal
Housing starts in the Montréal area increased slightly in 2018 compared to 2017 (+1%). The decline recorded in the construction of condos (-6%) during this period was more than offset by rental apartment starts (+8%) which hit a 30-year record high. Just under half of all housing starts in the Montreal CMA in 2018 were intended for the rental market, including starts of rental retirement homes. However, most rental starts were intended for the larger non-retirement home sector. Relatively low vacancy rates, the aging population, and stronger demand from young households were likely all factors that stimulated residential construction in the rental market segment.

Province of Québec
The total number of housing starts in Quebec's urban areas in 2018 was practically the same as in 2017. Residential construction in the past year continued to be supported by multi-unit housing starts, a large part of which were rental housing units. This was the case notably in Montréal and Québec. Overall, the growth in the supply of apartments in the province was stimulated by the aging of the population and by immigration.

Halifax
Total housing starts in Halifax picked up pace in December due to a rise in apartment construction. By year-end 2018, multiples starts were up 6% compared to 2017 figures, driven by strong rental demand and migration. Apartment construction in 2018 was predominantly located in the suburban markets of Hammonds Plains and Mainland North, as well as on the Halifax Peninsula.

Prince Edward Island (PEI)
Total housing starts in PEI were 156% higher in December compared to a year ago. Singles were up by 9% and multiples by 347%, which contributed directly to the considerable monthly increase. This was driven by new multi-unit apartment and seniors' condo projects, in reaction to a near zero vacancy rate on the Island. For 2018, total starts were up 26%, driven primarily by strong job growth and positive international immigration throughout the year. 

CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of Canada's housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next.

The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 213,419 units in December, down from 224,349 units in November. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 5.8% in December to 194,594 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 6.8% to 144,728 units in December while single-detached urban starts decreased by 2.6% to 49,866 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 18,825 units.

Preliminary Housing Starts data are also available in English and French through our website and through CMHC's Housing Market Information Portal. Our analysts are also available to provide further insight into their respective markets.

As Canada's authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers objective housing research and information to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry.

 

 

Preliminary Housing Start Data in Centres 10,000 Population and Over

 

Single-Detached

All Others

Total

 
 

December
2017

December
2018

%

December
2017

December
2018

%

December
2017

December
2018

%

Provinces (10,000+)

                 

N.-L.

77

39

-49

56

18

-68

133

57

-57

P.E.I.   

22

24

9

17

76

347

39

100

156

N.S.   

109

125

15

167

269

61

276

394

43

N.B.   

60

52

-13

103

123

19

163

175

7

Atlantic

268

240

-10

343

486

42

611

726

19

Qc

542

472

-13

4,101

4,152

1

4,643

4,624

0

Ont.   

2,103

1,657

-21

2,938

3,992

36

5,041

5,649

12

Man.   

223

144

-35

351

297

-15

574

441

-23

Sask.   

121

104

-14

194

37

-81

315

141

-55

Alta.   

984

697

-29

703

734

4

1,687

1,431

-15

Prairies

1,328

945

-29

1,248

1,068

-14

2,576

2,013

-22

B.C.   

843

725

-14

3,169

3,216

1

4,012

3,941

-2

Canada (10,000+)

5,084

4,039

-21

11,799

12,914

9

16,883

16,953

0

Metropolitan Areas

                 

Abbotsford-Mission

26

33

27

13

258

##

39

291

##

Barrie

28

13

-54

43

0

-100

71

13

-82

Belleville

37

27

-27

67

4

-94

104

31

-70

Brantford

11

10

-9

2

62

##

13

72

454

Calgary

349

223

-36

334

307

-8

683

530

-22

Edmonton

412

332

-19

305

306

0

717

638

-11

Greater Sudbury

6

8

33

4

4

-

10

12

20

Guelph

30

14

-53

80

153

91

110

167

52

Halifax

89

63

-29

166

237

43

255

300

18

Hamilton

59

15

-75

268

119

-56

327

134

-59

Kelowna

84

65

-23

177

219

24

261

284

9

Kingston

55

25

-55

17

213

##

72

238

231

Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo

57

79

39

138

75

-46

195

154

-21

Lethbridge

45

33

-27

22

12

-45

67

45

-33

London

150

103

-31

52

33

-37

202

136

-33

Moncton

13

9

-31

35

105

200

48

114

138

Montréal

232

165

-29

3,151

2,741

-13

3,383

2,906

-14

Oshawa

117

63

-46

18

54

200

135

117

-13

Ottawa-Gatineau

308

260

-16

599

298

-50

907

558

-38

 

Gatineau

48

51

6

48

40

-17

96

91

-5

 

Ottawa

260

209

-20

551

258

-53

811

467

-42

Peterborough

32

23

-28

24

13

-46

56

36

-36

Québec

52

29

-44

390

652

67

442

681

54

Regina

29

24

-17

35

17

-51

64

41

-36

Saguenay

16

13

-19

30

31

3

46

44

-4

St. Catharines-Niagara

152

66

-57

26

145

458

178

211

19

Saint John

12

21

75

26

1

-96

38

22

-42

St. John's

62

30

-52

39

15

-62

101

45

-55

Saskatoon

76

74

-3

144

14

-90

220

88

-60

Sherbrooke

32

25

-22

52

41

-21

84

66

-21

Thunder Bay

3

6

100

0

0

-

3

6

100

Toronto

767

540

-30

1,473

2,654

80

2,240

3,194

43

Trois-Rivières

12

16

33

45

82

82

57

98

72

Vancouver

402

375

-7

2,306

1,637

-29

2,708

2,012

-26

Victoria

70

43

-39

134

732

446

204

775

280

Windsor

35

45

29

2

8

300

37

53

43

Winnipeg

181

119

-34

322

210

-35

503

329

-35

Total

4,041

2,989

-26

10,539

11,452

9

14,580

14,441

-1

Data for 2017 based on 2016 Census Definitions.

Data for 2018 based on 2016 Census Definitions.

Source:  Market Analysis Centre, CMHC

## not calculable / extreme value

 

 

Preliminary Housing Start Data - Seasonally Adjusted at Annual Rates (SAAR)

 

Single-Detached

All Others

Total

 
 

November
2018

December
2018

%

November
2018

December
2018

%

November
2018

December
2018

%

Provinces (10,000+)

                 

N.L.

510

394

-23

206

222

8

716

616

-14

P.E.I.   

302

374

24

1,536

912

-41

1,838

1,286

-30

N.S.   

1,227

1,325

8

1,819

3,223

77

3,046

4,548

49

N.B.   

679

640

-6

1,769

1,740

-2

2,448

2,380

-3

Qc  

6,505

6,026

-7

36,039

38,383

7

42,544

44,409

4

Ont.   

19,751

19,099

-3

63,116

48,689

-23

82,867

67,788

-18

Man.   

2,408

2,179

-10

6,372

3,564

-44

8,780

5,743

-35

Sask.   

1,193

1,330

11

744

444

-40

1,937

1,774

-8

Alta.   

9,266

8,812

-5

15,469

9,121

-41

24,735

17,933

-27

B.C.   

9,354

9,687

4

28,263

38,430

36

37,617

48,117

28

Canada (10,000+)

51,195

49,866

-3

155,333

144,728

-7

206,528

194,594

-6

Canada (All Areas)

64,246

63,650

-1

160,102

149,768

-6

224,349

213,419

-5

Metropolitan Areas

                 

Abbotsford-Mission

314

412

31

324

3,096

##

638

3,508

450

Barrie

187

253

35

24

0

-100

211

253

20

Belleville

441

326

-26

240

48

-80

681

374

-45

Brantford

446

187

-58

1,308

744

-43

1,754

931

-47

Calgary

3,250

2,876

-12

6,444

3,684

-43

9,694

6,560

-32

Edmonton

4,039

4,056

0

7,488

3,672

-51

11,527

7,728

-33

Greater Sudbury

108

117

8

24

48

100

132

165

25

Guelph

264

196

-26

912

1,836

101

1,176

2,032

73

Halifax

831

626

-25

1,140

2,844

149

1,971

3,470

76

Hamilton

437

193

-56

1,824

1,428

-22

2,261

1,621

-28

Kelowna

600

661

10

3,660

2,628

-28

4,260

3,289

-23

Kingston

336

286

-15

336

2,556

##

672

2,842

323

Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo

910

939

3

2,736

900

-67

3,646

1,839

-50

Lethbridge

269

311

16

108

144

33

377

455

21

London

1,390

1,421

2

1,368

396

-71

2,758

1,817

-34

Moncton

202

149

-26

1,320

1,260

-5

1,522

1,409

-7

Montréal

2,701

2,283

-15

26,356

32,750

24

29,057

35,033

21

Oshawa

1,163

904

-22

3,360

648

-81

4,523

1,552

-66

Ottawa-Gatineau

2,961

2,626

-11

7,008

3,576

-49

9,969

6,202

-38

 

Gatineau

393

526

34

2,772

480

-83

3,165

1,006

-68

 

Ottawa

2,568

2,100

-18

4,236

3,096

-27

6,804

5,196

-24

Peterborough

307

274

-11

0

156

##

307

430

40

Québec

938

463

-51

5,712

7,824

37

6,650

8,287

25

Regina

201

344

71

312

204

-35

513

548

7

Saguenay

188

168

-11

168

372

121

356

540

52

St. Catharines-Niagara

554

706

27

792

1,740

120

1,346

2,446

82

Saint John

226

248

10

72

12

-83

298

260

-13

St. John's

422

290

-31

180

180

-

602

470

-22

Saskatoon

891

869

-2

384

168

-56

1,275

1,037

-19

Sherbrooke

235

358

52

1,656

492

-70

1,891

850

-55

Thunder Bay

99

169

71

180

0

-100

279

169

-39

Toronto

5,417

5,510

2

42,816

31,848

-26

48,233

37,358

-23

Trois-Rivières

217

193

-11

600

984

64

817

1,177

44

Vancouver

4,873

5,125

5

17,232

19,644

14

22,105

24,769

12

Victoria

709

699

-1

2,244

8,784

291

2,953

9,483

221

Windsor

638

686

8

984

96

-90

1,622

782

-52

Winnipeg

2,172

1,852

-15

5,112

2,520

-51

7,284

4,372

-40

Data based on 2016 Census Definitions.

 

## not calculable / extreme value

 

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation



Canada Real Estate, Canadian Housing Market, Housing Starts