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December housing starts show modest decline

Jan. 9, 2015 — The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 192,047 units in December compared to 194,807 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.

“The modest decline in the trend in December reflected lower levels of both multiple and single-detached starts,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s Chief Economist. “Overall, activity in 2014 continued to be supported by employment growth and migration with starts remaining essentially unchanged at 189,401 compared to 187,923 in 2013. These factors are expected to continue to promote stability in the pace of new home construction during 2015.”

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 180,560 units in December, down from 193,199 in November. The SAAR of urban starts decreased to 162,915 in December, from 173,627 in November. The decrease was led by multiple urban starts, which decreased to 103,054 units in December from 110,766 in November, while single-detached urban starts decreased to 59,861 units from 62,861.

Urban housing starts saw relatively large declines in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the Prairies, while urban housing starts registered modest gains in Ontario and British Columbia.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,645 units.

Preliminary Housing Starts data is also available in English and French at the following link: Preliminary Housing Starts Tables