The trend in housing starts was 203,554 units in February 2019, compared to 207,742 units in January 2019, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly, seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts.
“The national trend in housing starts resumed its downward trajectory in February while still remaining above historical average,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist. “Both single-detached and multi-unit dwellings starts trended lower. Higher mortgage rates combined with still-favourable, but less stimulative economic conditions have contributed to softer demand on new home markets in urban centres.”
The trend in the Vancouver census metropolitan area (CMA) remained steady at a similar level to January. However, compared to the same month last year, the share of single starts decreased while condo starts rose to 77% of all new housing units in the CMA this month.
In Edmonton, housing starts in all segments of the market trended lower in February. The slow economic recovery across Alberta combined with other demand headwinds continue to affect home-ownership activity.
Total housing starts in the Toronto CMA trended lower in February mainly due to low condominium apartment starts. Row and semi-detached home starts trended higher, underlining their popularity among buyers looking for lower-priced ground-oriented homes. Sales of new condominium apartment starts have been strong in 2017 and 2018 and these units will continue to break ground throughout this year at a varying pace.
Total housing starts in the Montreal area in the first two months of the year were down from the corresponding period in 2018. However, unlike condominium and single-family home building, rental apartment construction has continued to show strong growth.
Total housing starts in Halifax in February expanded by 25% year-over-year as construction on the multiples market in Halifax remains strong. While single-detached starts were stable compared to the same period last year, continued population growth from both international and interprovincial migration, combined with low vacancy rates are driving elevated levels of rental apartment construction.