September Sees Uptick in Starts

OTTAWA, Oct. 18, 2023 – Latest data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reveals a noticeable 3.9% uptick in the trend of housing starts for September, with the number standing at 254,006 units. This is in comparison to the 244,511 units reported in August. The trend metric employs a six-month moving average to determine the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of total housing starts across the nation.

Delving into the September figures, the monthly SAAR for total housing starts across all Canadian regions marked an 8% surge, bringing the count to 270,466 units as against August’s 250,383 units. Distinguishing urban regions (those with a population exceeding 10,000), September witnessed a 9% escalation in total housing starts, culminating in 250,766 units. This growth was primarily fueled by a 10% leap in multi-unit urban starts, which amounted to 207,689 units. Furthermore, urban starts for single-detached units climbed by 3%, resting at 43,077 units for the month.

Zooming into the specifics, Montreal and Toronto displayed robust figures, with their total SAAR housing starts soaring by 98% and 20%, respectively. Contrarily, Vancouver presented a downturn of 17%. This decline was manifested in both its single-detached (-12%) and multi-unit (-18%) housing start segments. Rural housing starts in September were gauged at a monthly SAAR of 19,700 units.

CMHC’s Chief Economist, Bob Dugan, analyzed the current landscape: “In September, both the SAAR and overall housing start trends manifested growth. We’ve seen unwavering activity in multi-unit starts, mirroring the figures from 2022, even amidst rising interest rates. The resilience of multi-unit starts has counteracted the sharp drops in single-detached starts observed across all provinces. Intriguingly, the past month was the second most prolific this year for multi-unit starts, indicating that the anticipated dampening effect of heightened interest rates on multi-unit construction is yet to be realized in 2023.”

In a year-on-year comparison, housing starts for 2023 have surged by 22% and 37% in Toronto and Vancouver, respectively, against the same span in 2022. Nevertheless, a national lens reveals an 8% slump in year-over-year starts for September in urban centers with populations surpassing 10,000. The dip is attributed largely to diminished single-detached starts.

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