Starts in Like a Lion

Housing starts in Calgary increased 11 per cent between February and March this year.

The trend, compiled by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation(CMHC), is a six month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of total housing starts. Calgary saw 16,647 units started in March compared to 14,978 in February.

“The trend in total housing starts continued to increase in March, as rising multi-family construction more than offset a reduction in single-detached starts,” said Richard Cho, CMHC’s senior market analyst for Calgary. “Low multi-family inventories, strong migration and a low rental vacancy rate are supporting demand for multi-family units, prompting builders to start more projects this year.”

The standalone monthly SAAR was 20,906 units in March, up from 15,465 in February. The CMHC said an elevated number of apartment starts contributed to a pronounced gain in multi-family construction. Actual monthly apartment starts reached its second highest level on record in March.

Nationally, starts in Canada decreased between February and March with 184,476 units started in March compared to 191,126 in February, a 3.5 per cent decrease.

“In March, the trend in housing starts declined below 190,000 units for the first time in six months, reflecting a decrease in multiple unit starts,” said Mathieu Laberge, deputy chief economist at CMHC. “Lower starts activity over the remainder of the year compared to 2013 is anticipated as builders continue to adjust activity in order to manage inventory levels.”

The standalone monthly SAAR was 156,823 units in March, a decrease from 190,639 in February. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 18.8 per cent in March to 142,502 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 25.5 per cent to 87,372 units in March while the single-detached urban starts segment decreased by 5.4 per cent to 55,130 units.

In that same thread, Statistics Canada revealed numbers showing building permits in Canada totaled $6.1 billion in February, an 11.6 per cent decrease compared to January.

“The decrease followed an 8.1 per cent gain the previous month and was mainly driven by lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings in all provinces,” said a Statistics Canada report.

The report found construction intentions for residential buildings decreased 21 per cent following a 26.1 per cent increase in January.

“Lower residential construction intentions were recorded in every province, except Prince Edward Island,” said the report. “Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia registered the largest decreases.”

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