CMHC says annual pace of housing starts picked up in January compared with December

The pace of housing starts across Canada picked up in January compared with December, fuelled by multi-unit projects such as condominiums and apartments.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts was 207,408 units in January, up from 206,305 in December, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported Wednesday.

Economists had expected the annual rate to come in at 200,000, according to Thomson Reuters.

January’s stronger-than-expected housing starts follow a year that saw a record number of Canadian home resales, noted Royal Bank senior economist Nathan Janzen.

“The recent strength in housing starts has been largely concentrated in Ontario, where resale markets have also been the hottest in recent months (and January temperatures were warmer than usual), Janzen wrote in a report.

However, Janzen expects the pace of housing starts will slow as the year progresses.

The increase in overall home starts in January came as an increase in multiple-dwelling projects offset a decline in single-detached construction.

The rate of multiple urban starts increased by 4.2 per cent to 125,886 on a seasonally adjusted basis in January, while the rate of single-detached urban starts fell 4.6 per cent to 63,802 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,720 units.

CMHC said the six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate was 199,834 units in January compared with 197,881 in December.

Regionally, the annual rate of urban starts increased in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, but fell in British Columbia, the Prairies and Quebec.

The annual rate for urban centres in Ontario came in at 96,883 units, up from 77,474 in December. The pace of urban starts in B.C. fell to 26,308 compared with 39,011 in December.