Surprising start to 2015 for housing starts

by Jamie Henry18 Feb 2015
Condos helped bolster impressive housing starts to kick off the year -- much to the surprise of some of the big banks -- meaning agents will have more options for clients looking to cash in on record-low rates.
“Canadian housing starts increased by 4.3 per cent to 187,300 annualized units in January 2015 partially to retrace December 2014’s unexpectedly large 6.5 per cent decline to a revised 179,600 units (previously reported as 180,300),” a recently released report from RBC states. “The pickup in new home construction activity, which defied market expectations for a decline to 178,000 units, solely reflected a sharp bounce in urban multiple-unit starts (up 12.3 per cent to 115,000) following a 7.0 per cent pullback in this typically volatile component in December.”
However, urban single-unit starts fell for the third month in a row by -3.8 per cent to 57,300 – the lowest level since March of last year.
“The increase in housing starts in January can be traced back to a surge of rental apartments started in Edmonton,” Marc Pinsonneault, senior economist with National Bank wrote in a report. “Given the deterioration in home resale market conditions in December and January as reported by Calgary and Edmonton real estate boards, housing starts in Alberta should trend down in the next few months well below the level reached in 2014.”
Surprisingly, housing starts in the “energy-dependent” regions didn’t record a slump in starts, despite many forecasting a decrease.
Sales in those regions, however, fell in January, according to CREA’s most recent stats.

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