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Housing starts advance again

 21 December 2020     HGO Staff 

OTTAWA – Housing starts across the country climbed in November 2020 according to all three measures used by the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC).

The trend measure – a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) – in housing starts was 231,491 units last month, up 3.8% from 222,989 units in October 2020.

“The national trend in housing starts in November increased,” CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan said in a statement. “Multi-family SAAR starts partly rebounded in November from two consecutive declines, offsetting a decline in single-detached SAAR starts and driving the overall trend higher. Multi-family starts were particularly strong in Vancouver and Montréal in November.”

Chart courtesy of Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation.CMHC uses the trend measure to complement the monthly SAAR of housing starts and account for the often-considerable swings in monthly estimates, which are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market.

The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 246,033 units in November, an increase of 14.4% from 215,134 units in October. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 15% in November to 233,106 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 22.5% to 177,661 units in November while single-detached urban starts decreased by 3.8% to 55,445 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 12,927 units.

Actual starts in urban areas – which CMHC defines as towns and cities with populations of more than 10,000 – were also up in November.

According to the data, starts of single-family homes were preliminarily set an actual 5,105 units for the month, up 18% from the 4,382 units in November 2019. They were up in every region of the country, except the Prairies where they fell 2%.

For the year-to-date, single-family starts totalled 45,124 units – up 5% from the 43,056 units recorded for the first 11 months last year. Starts were up in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario but down across the Prairies and in British Columbia.

Meanwhile, starts in the multi-unit segment – which includes apartments, townhouses and other linked dwellings for both the rental and ownership markets – were advanced 23% to a preliminary 15,726 units in November, compared to 12,785 units for the same month last year. Starts were up everywhere but B.C.

Starts for the year-to-date were essentially flat at 138,283 units. Once again, starts were up in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario but down across the Prairies and in B.C.

Total housing starts for November were set at an actual and preliminary 20,865 units – up 22% from 17,108 units for same month in 2019. They were up everywhere but B.C.

For the year-to-date, CMHC set housing starts at an actual 183,407 units – up 1% over the comparable period’s 180,937 units. In an all-to-familiar pattern, starts were down across the Prairies and in B.C. and up in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

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