Ontario bucked a national trend that saw the pace of construction of new homes slow in July, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said on August 9th.

CMHC’s seasonally adjusted annualized rate of housing starts fell by 9.6% in July to 222,013, compared with 245,455 in June. However, the decline was smaller than expected and CMHC’s six-month trend rose to 208,970 units from 205,765 units in June.

CMHC said housing starts in urban areas fell by 10.4% in July to 209,122 — led by a 12% decline in multiple-unit dwellings to 162,722 units. Single detached urban starts fell 4.6% to 46,400 units. Housing starts in rural areas rose 7.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 12,891 units.

The “national trend” in housing starts increased in July, despite the reduced seasonally adjusted number, said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist, in a statement. “High levels of activity in apartment and row starts in urban centres in recent months continued to be reflected in the high level of the total starts trend in July.”

While seasonally adjusted urban starts in the country’s largest province increased 4.2%, they fell elsewhere, led by a 43% drop in Atlantic Canada and down 15% in B.C., 9.6% in Alberta and 8.2% in Quebec. July home starts fell 5% in Toronto, 23% in Vancouver and 37% in Montreal. After a 25% surge in June that was the highest level since 1990, housing starts returned to more sustainable levels in July, said Krishen Rangasamy, senior economist with the National Bank of Canada.

“That’s not to say, however, residential construction is doomed for the rest of 2019. Note that in the last 12 months, there’s been an unusually large gap developing between permit applications and housing starts, perhaps reflecting builder caution amid uncertainties with regards to the economic outlook.”

Meanwhile the value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities declined 3.7% to $8.0 billion in June, largely due to a decrease in the value of multi-family and institutional permits. Despite the national decrease, the value of institutional permits remained 2.2% higher than a year earlier.

Municipalities issued $25.8 billion of permits in the second quarter of 2019, up 5.8% from the previous quarter and up 4.1% compared with the same quarter in 2018. Despite July’s housing starts drop, Rangasamy continues to forecast that housing starts will average roughly 200,000 this year.

Homebuilding also appears more robust with solid fundamentals such as increasing population, low interest rates and rising wages suggesting that “residential investment could see sustained healthy gains through the second half of this year, he added. But Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC World Markets said that after a decent start to the second half of the year, there are still headwinds for the Canadian housing markets. “As a result, following healthy growth in the second quarter, residential construction could cool back down over the final six months of 2019.”

Source: Globe and Mail

Source: Statistics Canada