August 2012 Housing Starts – CMHC Report

 In Real Estate Market News


Housing starts in Canada were trending at 222,900 units in August, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR)1 of housing starts. The standalone monthly SAAR was 224,900 units in August, up from 208,000 in July.


“The increase in housing starts in August was the result of a few, large, multi-unit projects in the Greater Toronto area. This increase is primarily a reflection of the high level of pre-sales in some of these large multi-unit projects in late 2010 and early 2011, which is in line with job gains at that time,” said Mathieu Laberge, Deputy Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre. “The higher level of starts recorded in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia in August reflect low levels of activity in July rather than an increasing trend that was registered in August. Overall, moderation in housing starts activity is still expected for the remainder of 2012 and 2013.”


For some markets, 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 the housing market. In some situations, analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading in some markets, as they are largely driven by the multiples segment of the markets which can be quite variable from one month to the next.


The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 10.2 per cent to 205,900 units in August. Urban single starts remained relatively unchanged in August at 64,300 units, while multiple urban starts increased by 15.5 per cent to 141,600 units.


August’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 47.5 per cent in Atlantic Canada, by 20.4 per cent in Ontario, by 18.2 per cent in British Columbia and by 1.3 per cent in the Prairies. Urban starts decreased by 9.8 per cent in Québec.


Rural starts2 were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 19,000 units in August.


As Canada’s national housing agency, CMHC draws on more than 65 years of experience to help Canadians access a variety of high quality, environmentally sustainable and affordable housing solutions. CMHC also provides reliable, impartial and up-to-date housing market reports, analysis and knowledge to support and assist consumers and the housing industry in making informed decisions.


1 All starts figures in this release, other than actual starts and the trend estimate, are seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) — that is, monthly figures adjusted to remove normal seasonal variation and multiplied by 12 to reflect annual levels. By removing seasonal ups and downs, seasonal adjustment allows for a comparison from one season to the next and from one month to the next. Reporting monthly figures at annual rates indicates the annual level of starts that would be obtained if the monthly pace was maintained for 12 months. This facilitates comparison of the current pace of activity to annual forecasts as well as to historical annual levels.


2 CMHC estimates the level of starts in centres with a population of less than 10,000 for each of the three months of the quarter, at the beginning of each quarter. During the last month of the quarter, CMHC conducts the survey in these centres and revises the estimate.



Housing Starts in Canada — All Areas


Housing Starts, Actual and SAAR*
Actual SAAR
August August July August
2011 2012 2012 2012
Revised Preliminary Revised Preliminary
Canada, all areas 17,042 19,860 208,000 224,900
Canada, rural areas 2,104 2,135 21,200 19,000
Canada, urban centres** 14,938 17,725 186,800 205,900
Canada, singles, urban centres 6,359 6,015 64,200 64,300
Canada, multiples, urban centres 8,579 11,710 122,600 141,600
Atlantic region, urban centres 795 1,112 8,000 11,800
Quebec, urban centres 2,707 2,807 44,000 39,700
Ontario, urban centres 5,949 7,744 72,200 86,900
Prairie region, urban centres 3,430 3,582 38,400 38,900
British Columbia, urban centres 2,057 2,480 24,200 28,600


Source: CMHC
*Seasonally adjusted annual rates.
**Urban centres with a population of 10,000 and over.
Detailed data available upon request.

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