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Housing starts decline, rural starts rise in December


January 10, 2017
By Ground Water Canada

Ottawa – Although overall housing starts in Canada declined slightly in December, rural starts were up during that same period, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 198,053 units in December compared to 200,105 in November, according to CMHC. Rural starts were estimated at 19,420 units, up from November’s estimate of 17,161 units.

The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.

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“December saw multi-unit construction slow for the third consecutive month in Canada, leading housing starts to trend down,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC Chief Economist, in a news release. “However, 2016 still counted more home starts than 2015. Increased demand for single-detached homes more than offset the decline we’re seeing in multi-unit construction – a decline that’s in response to efforts to manage current inventories.”

CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of Canada’s housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next.

The standalone monthly SAAR for all areas in Canada was 207,041 units in December, up from 187,273 units in November. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 11.8 per cent in December to 187,621 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 13.9 per cent to 120,750 units in December and single-detached urban starts increased by 8.1 per cent, to 66,871 units.

In December, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased in Ontario, Quebec and the Prairies, but decreased in British Columbia and in Atlantic Canada.

Rural starts, looking back:
August 2016: 14,824 units
March 2016: 19,299 units 
December 2015: 13,958 units
December 2014: 17,645 units