Home prices, starts, bring encouraging news

Home prices, starts, bring encouraging news

New reports are indicating that a traditionally strong spring housing market may be in order this year as new home prices and housing starts are on the rise.

The prices of new homes in Canada edged up 0.1 per cent in January from December, the 10th consecutive monthly increase, on strength in two major western cities, according to Statistics Canada’s New Housing Price Index.

As well, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts was 201,100 units in February, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This is up from 198,100 units in January.

Compared with a year earlier the index was up 2.4 per cent, slightly down from the 2.5 per cent year-on-year growth noted in December, 2011. The metropolitan regions of Calgary and Vancouver both posted 0.3-per-cent advances over December. The largest region, Toronto and Oshawa, was flat.

Over all, prices were up in eight regions in January, held steady in nine, and dropped in four.

Factors contributing to the increase in housing starts include a rise in multiple housing starts in Quebec, and to a lesser extent, in British Columbia. “Increases in these provinces were partially offset by decreases in multiple starts in Ontario and Atlantic Canada,” said Mathieu Laberge, deputy chief economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 3.4 per cent to 182,800 units in February. Urban single starts rose by 3.5 per cent in February to 67,400 units. Similarly, multiple urban starts were up by 3.3 per cent to 115,400 units.

February’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 49.8 per cent in Quebec, by 10.2 per cent in the Prairies, and by 9.6 per cent in British Columbia. Urban starts decreased by 15.5 per cent in Atlantic Canada and by 16.9 per cent in Ontario.