Ottawa-Gatineau housing starts up 9% in July, CMHC says

Housing starts
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Ottawa’s construction industry continued to start new homes at a hefty clip in July in a bid to satisfy pent-up demand for inventory in the capital’s red-hot housing market, figures from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. show.

Builders in Ottawa-Gatineau began work on 978 homes last month, up nine per cent from July 2019. Continuing a recent trend, most of the year-over-year increase was driven by construction on the Ottawa side of the river, where overall starts jumped 24 per cent to 740.

Single-detached builds in Ottawa rose from 276 to 323, while the number of multi-unit starts – which include condos, apartments and townhomes – increased from 323 to 417. Across the river in Gatineau, meanwhile, single-detached starts ticked up from 44 to 63, but just 175 new condo, apartment and townhome units were launched, down more than 30 per cent from a year earlier.

While measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19 have wreaked havoc with many segments of the local economy, residential real estate seems to be booming despite a slight slowdown earlier this year. Home sales in Ottawa jumped nearly 20 per cent in July compared with a year earlier, and average prices rose by a comparable percentage.

Meanwhile, Ottawa-Gatineau’s annual pace of housing starts dipped slightly last month. CMHC said the seasonally adjusted annual rate of new builds in the region fell from 10,862 in June to 10,614 last month, a drop of two per cent. 

Nationally, the federal agency says the annual pace of housing starts in July rose nearly 16 per cent compared with June.

CMHC says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts rose to 245,604 in July, up from 212,095 in June.

Economists on average had expected an annual rate of 210,000, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

The increase came as urban starts of apartments, condos and other types of multiple-unit housing projects rose 18.8 per cent to 184,431 in July, while single-detached urban starts climbed 12.3 per cent to 47,564.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 13,609 units for July.

The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts rose to 204,376 in July, up from 199,778 in June.

– With files from the Canadian Press