Housing starts dip slightly in January, CMHC says

Housing starts pic
Housing starts pic

Housing starts in the National Capital Region fell slightly last month compared with a year earlier, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Tuesday.

Developers launched 640 new builds in January, the national housing agency said, down three per cent from the 661 starts recorded in the same month in 2021.

New builds in Ottawa declined 20 per cent year-over-year to 359. But that was offset by a 33 per cent jump in the number of starts in Gatineau, where builders started work on 281 new units.

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While starts of apartments, condos and other multiple-unit housing projects rose six per cent overall compared with January 2021 on the strength of a 77 per cent surge in Gatineau, single-detached starts dropped by 22 per cent as declines were seen on both sides of the Ottawa River.

Meanwhile, the region’s annual pace of housing starts – a rolling average designed to smooth out monthly fluctuations – nearly doubled last month after nosediving in December.

National pace declines

CMHC said January’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of new builds in Ottawa-Gatineau was 9,653, up 94 per cent over December’s tally of 4,975.

Nationally, the agency said the annual pace of housing starts in January also slowed compared with December.

CMHC says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts fell to 230,754 units in January compared with 238,405 in the final month of 2021.

The drop came as the annual pace of urban starts fell five per cent to 204,428 units in January.

The annual rate of urban starts of apartments, condos and other types of multiple-unit housing projects fell nine per cent to 144,332, while single-detached urban starts rose seven per cent to 60,096.

CMHC estimated rural starts at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 26,326 units.

The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts was 254,133 in January, down from 261,352 in December.

The decline in local housing starts comes amid continued pent-up demand for resale homes that helped fuel another double-digit price hike last month.

According to the Ottawa Real Estate Board, the average price of a residential property rose 14 per cent year-over-year in January to $771,739, while the average condo price jumped 18 per cent to $447,943.

“Bad weather, pandemic lockdowns, it doesn’t matter – Ottawa remains a fast-moving, active and robust market,” new OREB president Penny Torontow said.

Prices up across country

The price increases in the nation’s capital mirror a trend that’s being seen across the country, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Home sales in January fell compared with a year earlier, CREA said Tuesday, but still posted their second-best showing for the month as the average price climbed to a new record.

The association says actual sales in January totalled 33,166, down 10.7 per cent from 37,137 in January 2021.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, home sales in January were up one per cent compared with December.

The number of newly listed homes fell 11 per cent month-over-month in January.

The national average home price was a record $748,450 in January, up 21 per cent from a year earlier.

CREA says excluding Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, two of Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets, cuts almost $160,000 from the national average price.

– With additional reporting from the Canadian Press

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