Multi-family housing starts drag overall rate lower

by Steve Randall10 Aug 2018

Housing starts eased in July as the multi-family sector pulled back from near-record highs in the previous month.

CMHC data reveals a trend of 219,988 starts in July, down from 221,738 in June, based on a 6-month moving trend of seasonally adjusted annual rates.

"The national trend in housing starts decreased in July, reflecting a decline in the SAAR of multi-unit dwellings in urban centres from the near-historical high registered in June," said Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist. "Despite decreasing in July, the trend remains well-above historical averages, reflecting elevated levels of multi-unit starts in most major markets that has more-than-offset declining single starts."

Around the markets
There was little change in the Toronto CMA, with single-family starts lower but offset by higher multi-family units. The only time there were more multi-family starts in a July was in 2005.

Both main housing sectors saw fewer starts in the Vancouver CMA. The market has seen an elevated rate of new home construction this year though.

The Quebec CMA saw a 10% decline in starts year-over-year although the rental market including seniors housing surged 48%.

Victoria saw a higher rate of starts across the CMA with fewer multi-family units but a rise in single-family starts compared to a year earlier.

Monthly stats
The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 206,314 units in July, down from 246,200 units in June. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 16.2% in July to 190,093 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 20.3% to 136,231 units in July while single-detached urban starts decreased by 3.6% to 53,862 units.

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