Altus Group projects modest growth in Ottawa housing starts this year


Ottawa is projected to see steady growth in 2019 housing starts while homebuilders in other major Canadian cities are expected to ease off the gas, according to a new analysis of the country’s top real estate markets.

Altus Group projects in its quarterly housing report that Ottawa will see work begin on an additional 7,650 units this year. That’s coming off 7,539 housing starts in 2018 – already well above the 10-year average of 6,167 starts over the past decade.

The real estate services firm expects work on new single-detached homes will drive this modest growth, with a corresponding drop-off in apartment starts hampering any potential boom.

Altus Group points to strong job growth in 2018, infrastructure investment such as light-rail transit and the resurgence of Ottawa’s tech sector as reasons to expect a steady supply of new builds to continue in the capital. The firm does caution, however, that concerns about overbuilding could see a reduction in the number of new purpose-built rentals coming onto the market. Altus expects a slight dip back down to 7,500 housing starts in 2020.

While Montreal is slated for a sizable jump in new builds, the company says it expects housing starts in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg to decline in the coming year. Edmonton and Halifax are expected to be on par with Ottawa.

Ottawa homebuilders have had an up-and-down start to 2019, with a sharp year-over-year drop in January offset by an uptick in February.