Weak employment figures contribute to lower Ottawa housing start trends in January: CMHC

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Housing starts in the capital trended down in January, according to numbers released Monday by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

Not only were the 5,984 starts lower than December, they also trended lower than January of 2014.

“Weak employment conditions and flat earnings in the nation's capital continue to weigh on developer and buyer sentiment restraining housing market activity,” CMHC Ottawa market analyst Anne-Marie Shaker said in a statement.

Ms. Shaker said low-rise starts took up a “larger share of activity” because of inventory issues in the condominium segment.

CMHC said 26 per cent of starts were in Nepean outside the Greenbelt and about 20 per cent were in Kanata. It said both are high-income and high-growth areas, supporting strong activity in the new and resale housing markets.

The CMHC uses the six-month trend to account for possible wide swings in the seasonably-adjusted annual rates (SAAR).

In Ottawa, the SAAR was 2,837 in January, compared with 6,858 in December.

Across the country, CMHC says the annual pace of new housing picked up in January, as more multiple urban starts offset a drop in single-detached urban starts.

CMHC says the seasonally adjusted annual rate increased to 187,276 units in January, up from 179,637 in December. Economists had expected the rate to come in at 178,000, according to Thomson Reuters.

The agency says the rate of new home starts in urban areas rose to 172,322 units in January from 161,940 in December.

The increase was led by the rate of multiple urban starts, which increased to 115,008 units in January from 102,384 in December.

CMHC says single-detached urban starts fell to 57,314 units last month from 59,556 in December.

CMHC said the six-month moving average in January was 188,956 units, down from 191,627 in December.

- with files from the Canadian Press