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Canadian housing starts trended higher in January


February 16, 2021
By Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Courtesy CMHC

The trend in housing starts was 244,963 units in January 2021, up from 238,747 units in December 2020. 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 increased in January,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC‘s chief economist. “Both single- and multi-family SAAR starts rebounded strongly in January from declines in December, driving the overall trend higher. Single-family starts were particularly strong in Montréal, reaching their highest level since February 2008.”

Due to COVID-19, CMHC’s monthly Starts and Completions Survey (SCS) for December 2020 was not conducted in the Kelowna CMA; it resumed in January 2021. This press release includes national housing starts totals without Kelowna in order to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic where the SCS survey was conducted in both December 2020 and January 2021. The national trend and month-to-month change in the SAAR level was very similar with and without Kelowna in December and January. We will continue to monitor the situation in each centre and adjust the SCS accordingly.

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, excluding Kelowna CMA, was 281,389 units in January, an increase of 22.7 per cent from 229,350 units in December. Including Kelowna CMA, the stand-alone monthly SAAR was 282,428 units in January, an increase of 23.1 per cent from December.

Excluding Kelowna CMA, the SAAR of urban starts increased by 27.2 per cent in January to 265,838 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 23.9 per cent to 192,956 units in January while single-detached urban starts increased by 36.8 per cent to 72,882 units.

Including Kelowna CMA, the SAAR of urban starts increased by a similar 27.7 per cent in January to 266,877 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 24.1 per cent to 193,328 units in January while single-detached urban starts increased by 38.1 per cent to 73,549 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15,551 units (with and without Kelowna CMA).