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Canadian housing starts trend lower in December


January 18, 2022
By Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Housing starts in Canada - all areas. (CNW Group/Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)

The trend in housing starts was 260,567 units in December, down from 267,606 units in November, 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 six-month trend in housing starts was lower from November to December, but remains at very high levels,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist. “For SAAR housing starts in Canada’s urban areas, both single-detached and multi-family starts decreased in December. On a positive note, actual urban housing starts were 21 per cent higher in 2021, adding much needed supply. The increase was driven by higher single-detached (28 per cent) and multi-family (19 per cent) starts and was mainly due to recovery following COVID-19 shutdown measures in 2020.”

On a trend and monthly SAAR basis, the level of housing starts activity in Canada remains high in historical terms. Among VancouverToronto and MontrealVancouver was the only market to post growth in total SAAR starts in December, due to higher single-detached and multi-family starts.

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 the multi-unit segment largely drives the market and can vary significantly from one month to the next.

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The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 236,106 units in December, a decrease of 22 per cent from 303,813 units in November. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 24 per cent in December to 212,918 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 29 per cent to 157,687 units in December, while single-detached urban starts decreased by 4 per cent to 55,231 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 23,188 units.

Monthly Housing Starts and Other Construction Data  are accessible in English and French on our website and the CMHC Housing Market Information Portal. Housing starts data is available on the eleventh business day each month. We will release the January data on February 15 at 8:15 AM ET.

As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers objective housing research and information to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry.