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Housing starts expose regional divide

by Olivia D'Orazio | Mortgage Broker News | May 12, 2015

April housing starts across Canada were down almost nine per cent from a year ago as increases in some urban centres failed to offset declines in the Prairies.

Actual starts were down 8.6 per cent during the month of April, falling to 15,689 from April 2014’s 17,157. Seasonally adjusted starts, however, rose by half a per cent year-over-year.

“This trend is in line with CMHC’s expectations for housing starts in 2015,”said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist.

Still, there is some concern that the trend line is in the wrong direction.

In Calgary, starts were down 51 per cent as the city continues to deal with a sharp dropoff in oil prices.

However, growing communities, like Brantford, Ont., Halifax and Victoria experienced triple-digit year-over-year growth during the month of April; 126 per cent, 337 per cent and 347 per cent, respectively.

In Vancouver and Toronto, starts were up 35.9 per cent and 8.1 per cent, respectively.

“Strong high-rise completions so far this year have enabled builders to channel more resources towards breaking ground on new projects,” said Dana Senagama, CMHC’s principal of market analysis for the Greater Toronto Area.

“Moreover, building has begun on a high number of low rise homes sold prior to construction.”