On the national level, the housing starts trend went up in April, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s latest report.
The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of starts stood at 206,103 units last month. This was noticeably larger than the 202,420 units in March.
The analysis attributed intensified activity in the multi-residential space as the main driver of the trend.
“Higher-trending multi-unit starts offset a continued decline in the trend for single starts, in urban areas,” CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan stated. “The increase in the trend of multi-unit starts reflects a strong recovery in multi-unit SAAR activity in March and April from consecutive declines at the end of 2018 and the first months of 2019.”
In particular, Vancouver helped boost the April national numbers despite being weaker by 2% on an annual basis. This is because the number of multi-family starts went up by 3% over April 2018.
“Fifty-three per cent of these projects are located in the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby. As the reduced sales activities continued to allow listings to accumulate, developers have started to focus more on existing projects rather than new construction,” CMHC explained.
Emblematic of its steady recovery in recent quarters, Calgary saw its housing starts trend slightly higher in April, with 42% year-over-year growth in the first four months of this year.
“Although construction activity in [Calgary’s] freehold multi and single home sectors continued to slow down as the economy recovers, the year-to-date housing starts in the condo sector has increased by 19% compared to the same period last year, indicating a relatively positive outlook from both buyers and developers in the more affordable housing sector.”
Meanwhile, Toronto starts trended lower last month due to weaker activity in both condo and single-detached home construction.
“Strong pre-construction condominium apartment sales [in Toronto] over the past two years are likely to be reflected in future housing starts. Declining sales of pre-construction units of single-detached homes during the past year will likely mean fewer starts over the coming months.”
Quebec suffered an even more pronounced 30% decline in year-to-date starts last month, “due mainly to fewer rental housing units started in the first four months of this year. Still, the number of rental housing units now under construction in the area remains at a record level.”