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Canadian housing starts trended higher in January: CMHC

 18 February 2021     HGO Staff 

OTTAWA – The housing market continues to drive this country’s economy as housing starts climbed in January by all three measures used by Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC), the agency reported this week.

The trend in housing starts was 244,963 units in January 2021, up 2.6% from 238,747 units in December 2020. 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 increased in January,” CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan said in a statement. “Both single- and multi-family SAAR starts rebounded strongly in January from declines in December, driving the overall trend higher. Single-family starts were particularly strong in Montréal, reaching their highest level since February 2008.”

Chart courtesy of Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation. The trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. It’s used to complement the month SAAR, which can be misleading at times because of the multi-unit segment of the market that often varies significantly from month to month.

The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 282,428 units in January, an increase of 23.1% from December. The SAAR of urban starts increased 27.7% in January to 266,877 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 24.1% to 193,328 units in January while single-detached urban starts increased by 38.1% to 73,549 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15,551 units.

Actual starts of single-family homes in Canada’s urban areas – defined as cities with a population of 10,000 or more – were pegged at a preliminary 3,657 units for the month of January, a 45% leap from the 2,524 units started in January 2020.

Starts were up in each of CMHC’s five regions from coast-to-coast, ranging from 24% across the Prairies to 164% in Quebec.

Meanwhile, starts in the multi-unit segment – including townhouse, apartments and other linked dwellings for both the rental and owner markets – were set at a preliminary 13,126 units for January, a 37% surge over the same month last year.

Once again, starts were up in every region of the country, from 27% in British Columbia to 188% in Atlantic Canada.

Total housing starts for the first month of the year came in at a preliminary 16,799 units – a gain of 39% over January 2020’s 12,109 units. Regionally, the gain varied from 31% in Ontario to 122% in Atlantic Canada.

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