Trend in Canadian Housing Starts Declined in December While Total Starts Increased in 2015

The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 203,502 units in December compared to 208,204 in November, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.

“A decrease in both the multiple and single starts segments drove the December trend lower,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC Chief Economist. “Starts increased in 2015 compared to 2014, largely driven by the condominium market in Toronto. Had the Toronto condominium starts remained stable in 2015, national starts would have declined on a year-over-year basis.”

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 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 was 172,965 units in December, down from 212,028 units in November. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 19.1 per cent in December to 159,007 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 27.0 per cent to 101,264 units in December and the single-detached urban starts held steady at 57,743 units.

In December, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts decreased in the Prairies, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada, but increased in British Columbia and Québec.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 13,958 units.

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