Sustained high levels of activity in the apartment and rowhouse segments continue to strengthen housing starts in Canada’s urban markets, CMHC reported.
Latest numbers indicated that the national trend in housing starts was 208,970 units in July 2019. This was notably larger than the 205,765 units in June.
“The national trend in housing starts increased in July, despite a decrease in the level of SAAR activity from June,” CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan stated. “High levels of activity in apartment and row starts in urban centres in recent months continued to be reflected in the high level of the total starts trend in July.”
This was most apparent in Vancouver, where 85% of July starts were in the multi-unit segment. Most of these were situated in the City of Vancouver and the City of Surrey.
“Compared to the same period last year, the year-to-date single-detached home starts declined while the multi-unit starts increased,” CMHC reported. “Overall, continuous strengthening of economic fundamentals supported a steady growth of 25% in the year-to-date starts in the CMA between 2018 and 2019.”
Another major mover was New Brunswick, which enjoyed a 40% annual increase in its year-to-date total housing starts. Multi-unit starts in 2019 were the market’s highest readings ever for the first seven months since 2010.
“The increase largely reflects unprecedented levels of rental apartment construction, particularly in Moncton and Saint John,” CMHC added. “These two CMAs alone accounted for 75% of all new multi-unit construction in the province.”
Meanwhile, lower multi-unit activity in Toronto pulled down the market’s overall starts in July. However, this will not significantly dent demand and new construction in the long term.
“Pre-construction sales of multi-unit homes, particularly condominium apartments, have been strong for the last few years and will break ground at a varying pace throughout the year. Strong demand for relatively affordable higher density housing continues to persist among homebuyers in Toronto.”