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Housing starts on the march in May

By Adam Freill   

Construction Residential

Both the trend and the SAAR monthly rate felt the impact of higher multi-unit starts in May, reports CMHC.

Housing Starts in Canada – All Areas (CNW Group/Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)

The monthly Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of housing starts for all areas in Canada increased by 10 per cent in May, reports Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The 264,506 unit starts were a sizeable gain over the 241,111 units started in April.

Along with the monthly SAAR gains, the six-month trend in housing starts was also on the rise, increasing 3.8 per cent from 238,859 units in April to 247,830 units in May. The trend measure is a six-month moving average of the SAAR of total housing starts for all areas in Canada.

Extending the good news for the housing sector, CMHC also shared that the actual number of housing starts across Canada in urban centres of 10,000 population and over was up by almost 40 per cent compared to one year earlier. The residential sector posted a gain of 39 per cent over 12 months earlier, with 21,652 units started this past May, versus 15,606 units in May of 2023. This year-over-year increase was primarily driven by higher multi-unit starts, which were up by 49 per cent. Single-detached starts were up a more modest six per cent over the 12-month period.

The total actual housing starts were higher in two of Canada’s three major cities, with Toronto seeing an increase of 26 per cent, while Montreal jumped 200 per cent compared to May a year ago. Vancouver declined 13 per cent.


“The focus for homebuilders remains on multi-unit construction in Canada’s major centres as both the SAAR and trend of housing starts increased in May, following two consecutive months of decline,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist. “This was due to growth in actual year-over-year starts, driven by significantly higher multi-unit starts, particularly in Montreal and Quebec. While this is good news for housing supply, we do expect downward pressure on starts through the rest of 2024.”




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