Housing starts sluggish in April, CMHC says

The number of housing starts in Ottawa plummeted 51 per cent in April compared with the previous year, continuing the home construction market’s weak start to 2014.

There were 253 starts last month, compared with 515 during the same month in 2013, according to figures the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. released on Thursday. So far this year, there have been 1,027 housing starts, down from 1,596 in the first four months of 2013.

CMHC said the decline was due to a “due to a drop in the number of apartment units started.” As for the other dwelling types, singles and semis trended higher while rows moderated, the agency said.

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Kanata had the most single-detached construction starts in April, at 40 per cent of the total, while Nepean followed at 27 per cent. On year-to-date basis, Old Ottawa City has seen the most overall starts at 25 per cent, due to the concentration of apartment construction in the area.

“Low-rise activity should revitalize into the summer months driven by singles and rows, but remain below long-term historical averages. The starts picture is gradually shifting to a three-way split between dwelling types offering a balanced mix for potential buyers,” Sandra Perez Torres, CMHC’s senior market analyst for the region, said in a statement.

Using CMHC’s six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates, starts in Ottawa were at 3,931 units, down from 4,513 units in March.

Nationwide, the agency estimated there were 17,124 actual starts. Extrapolated over 12 months, that gives a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 194,809 units in April, an increase from 156,592 in March.

“This is in line with CMHC’s analysis indicating that the new home construction market in Canada is headed for a soft landing in 2014,” Mathieu Laberge, CMHC’s deputy chief economist, said in a statement. “Over the remainder of the year, builders are expected to continue to adjust activity, particularly with respect to multiples, in order to manage inventory levels.”

– With files from the Canadian Press

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