Canadian Housing Starts Trend Decreased in May

Canadian Housing Starts Trend Decreased in May

The trend in housing starts was 201,983 units in May 2019, compared to 205,717 units in April 2019, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.

"The national trend in housing starts decreased in May as a result of continuing decline in the trend for single starts as well as a decline in the trend of multi-unit starts that follows gains in this segment in recent months, in urban areas," said Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist. "The decrease in the trend of multi-unit starts reflects a decline in the SAAR level of multi-unit activity in May from the unusually elevated level registered in April, which leaves multi-unit SAAR starts closer to its 10-year average."

Monthly Highlights


Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) housing starts saw a strong increase in May, with multi-family construction accounting for 90% of total starts for the month. Two thirds of the new units were located in Burnaby, Surrey, and Coquitlam, which together saw a number of condominium and rental apartment projects get underway. So far this year, total housing starts are 10% higher than they were in the same period in 2018 as developers and municipalities move to meet demand from the region’s growing population.


Housing starts in the Kelowna CMA declined in May, relative to the same month last year, continuing the downward trend seen in the previous three months. Overall, housing starts were down approximately 44% in the first 5 months of 2019, relative to the same period last year. This downward trend comes on the heels of a slower pace of population growth allowing the existing home market to return to balance conditions.


Housing starts trended lower in May after a slight up-tick the month prior. New construction activity in the market remains relatively low as builders continue to adjust to sustained levels of elevated inventory and soft demand.


Housing starts trended lower for all units types except semi-detached which experienced a slight increase in May. The slowdown in starts continued to reflect the amount of unsold inventory on the market, particularly among single-detached units.


Overall starts trended down in Brantford due to lower trending single-detached and row starts. However, despite the slowdown, row starts remain at a higher than usual level. New single detached home prices continue to rise, making new rows increasingly appealing to buyers who are looking to purchase an affordable low-rise home.

St. Catharines-Niagara

Total housing starts in the St. Catharines-Niagara CMA trended up to reach a near 30-year high in May. The townhomes sector was a clear leader, where the pace of new construction has accelerated the most, accounting for 40% of total new home construction trend this month. Price weary buyers from more expensive nearby communities continue to fuel demand for new homes in St. Catharines-Niagara.


Total housing starts trended lower during May in the Toronto CMA with declines being recorded across all types of homes. High homeownership costs continue to weigh on the demand for single-detached and row houses thus resulting in fewer low-rise home starts. Strong pre-construction sales of condominium apartment units over the past two years will continue to translate into starts over time at a varied pace, despite their starts trending lower in May.


Housing starts trended slightly higher in May because of higher row starts. Year-to-date actual starts are up 14% relative to the same period last year due mainly to a rise in condominium apartment starts while single-detached homes declined. Rising ownership costs are shifting demand toward relatively more affordable dwellings and tight resale market conditions are encouraging builders to increase supply of condominium apartment units.


From January to May, residential construction in the Gatineau area reached a five-decade record high. This strong increase was attributable mainly to the rise in rental housing starts in the Plateau neighbourhood. The aging of the population and the low vacancy rate have continued to stimulate starts of this type in the Gatineau area.


Total housing starts in the Montréal area in the first five months of this year increased compared to the same period last year. This gain was solely attributable to rental housing construction, as condominium and single-family home starts recorded decreases. The low vacancy rates on the conventional rental market and the greater proportion of young households now opting for rental housing have kept stimulating rental housing starts. Seniors’ rental apartment construction has also posted strong growth since the beginning of the year.


Residential construction in Halifax continues to trend upwards as the total number of housing starts year-to-date increased by 48% compared to the same period last year. While the apartment segment has been dominating the growth in construction so far this year, in May, single-detached starts recorded a strong uptick, expanding by 69% year-over-year. As sales remain elevated in relation to the number of new listings, demand for additional supply is supporting the new home construction market.

Prince Edward Island (PEI)

Total housing starts in PEI were 60% higher in May driven primarily by higher apartment starts in response to the record low vacancy rate. The PEI economy continues to outperform the other Atlantic provinces, driven primarily by increased capital project spending as well as strong population, income and employment growth.

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 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 of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 202,337 units in May, down 13.3% from 233,410 units in April. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 14.4% in May to 186,946 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 18.5% to 141,851 units in May while single-detached urban starts increased by 1.8% to 45,095 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15,391 units.

Click here for more...

Provided by: CMHC

Simon Fraser
Market Update

Simon Fraser Condos

Altaire by Polygon

Altaire built in 2008/2009 reaches higher then any other condo building in Metro Vancouver offering panoramic views.

Novo I by Intergulf

Novo I built in 2007 known for the amazing sight lines and views from most units and balconies up to 1000 sq ft.

Novo II by Intergulf

Novo II built in 2007 known for the amazing sight lines and views from most units and balconies up to 1000 sq ft.

Aurora by Polygon

Aurora built in 2006 with 103 condos featuring 36 unique floor plans ranging from 715 sq ft to 1500 sq ft.

One University by Millennium

One University built in 2005 is UniverCity's flagship building with luxury homes featuring semi private elevators.

Harmony by Polygon

Harmony built in 2005 was the first condo development at Univercity & as a result offers a unique setting & views.

Serenity Townhomes by Polygon

Serenity is a collection of 2 bedroom townhomes of 1100 sq ft ranging to 4 bedroom 2000+ sq ft townhomes.

The Hub by Liberty Homes

The Hub built in 2009 is set atop Nester's Grocery and steps from High Street giving these homes an urban feel.

Verdant by VanCity Enterprises

Verdant is a two storey town home building built with environmental design and stylish living spaces which complement the modern exterior of these SFU homes.

Origin by Porte Development

Origin is designed by GBL Architect & BYU Interior Designs, developed by Porte Development Corp. and marketed by Red Dot Real Estate.

Nest by Mosaic

Located on UniverCity High Street across from the new University Highlands elementary schools this refreshing building will add further depth to a growing community.

Highland House by Liberty Homes

A 12-storey concrete high-rise development and targeted towards Rental Investors and First-Time Condo Buyers.

Lift by Porte Development

Lift will be a wood frame building comprising of 56 homes. Building technologies, environmental features, and price points should be similar to Origin.

Altitude by Hungerford Group

Altitude will be a 2 tower development comprising of a 12 and 14 story building with a total of 210 strata units.

CentreBlock by Liberty Homes

CentreBlock at UniverCity atop Burnaby Mountain is the latest condo project with sales commencing early 2014. .

Reciprocity Logo The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Greater Vancouver REALTORS® (GVR), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB.