Canadian Housing Starts in October: Insights and Trends in a Challenging Economic Climate

In a recent update, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reported an upward trend in housing starts for October 2023. This trend, showing a 1% increase to 256,280 units from September’s 253,957 units, suggests a resilient housing market despite ongoing economic challenges. The trend measure, a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of total housing starts, offers a broader perspective on the housing market across Canada.


Key Findings for October 2023:

Overall Housing Starts: The monthly SAAR of total housing starts for all areas in Canada rose by 1% in October, reaching 274,681 units, compared to 270,669 units in September.

Urban Housing Starts: In urban centers with a population of over 10,000, housing starts increased by 2% to 257,357 units. This includes a 1% rise in multi-unit urban starts (209,887 units) and a significant 9% increase in single-detached urban starts (47,470 units).

Regional Variances: Notable regional differences were observed, with total SAAR housing starts experiencing a decline of 43% in Montreal and 24% in Toronto. In contrast, Vancouver saw a substantial increase of 35%, propelled by a 40% rise in multi-unit starts.

Rural Housing Starts: The rural starts monthly SAAR was estimated at 17,324 units.


Economic Insights:

Bob Dugan, CMHC’s Chief Economist, highlighted that despite the positive trend in October, driven largely by ongoing activity in multi-unit starts, the actual year-to-date starts have seen a decline. Dugan emphasized the need for innovative approaches to deliver more housing and address the supply gap in the current economic environment.


Additional Data:

Year-to-Date Comparisons: In 2023, actual year-to-date housing starts in Toronto and Vancouver were higher by 22% and 37%, respectively, compared to the same period in 2022, primarily due to an increase in multi-unit starts.

National Perspective: Nationally, actual year-to-date housing starts in centers with over 10,000 population were down by 7%, mainly attributed to a decrease in single-detached starts.

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