Canadian Housing Starts Overall Up slightly in March, Urban Starts Down
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says the pace of housing starts crept up slightly in March from the previous month, despite a drop in the number of single dwellings begun in some urban markets.
However, it also noted that starts in March totalled 12,273, down from 14,517 in the same month last year, pointing to an ongoing trend of slower activity in the housing sector.
The agency estimated housing starts in March came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 184,028, just over the 183,207 figure in February.
The slight increase came as the annual rate of starts in urban markets slipped 2.7 per cent in March to 157,217 units, as starts of condos, apartments and other multiple-unit buildings remained steady but starts of single urban homes fell.
There was a 6.6 per cent decline in single urban starts to 60,558 units while multiple urban starts remained relatively unchanged at 96,659 units in March.
Urban starts decreased 15.7 per cent in Ontario on a seasonally adjusted annual rate and were down 13.5 per cent in Quebec.
However, urban starts increased in 27.1 per cent Atlantic Canada, were 13.8 per cent higher on the Prairies and 13.1 per cent higher in British Columbia.
Emanuella Enenajor, an economist at CIBC World Markets, said the overall numbers were in line with her expectations but better than a consensus estimate calling for the seasonally adjusted rate to fall to 175,000 in March.
That suggests a sharp deceleration in home building recorded early in 2013 may have overstated the sector’s weakness in the near term but there’s still pressure from a slowing economic environment, Enenajor wrote.
“While the 184K pace marks an improvement from the winter lull, it is still well below the pace seen late last year and continues to point to an overall deceleration in home building,” Enenajor said.
“Indeed, on an annual basis, starts are down 13.6 per cent from year-ago levels, with multi-unit starts registering the steepest decline (-21.5 per cent).”