Ottawa housing starts trend down in March: CMHC

Housing starts in the capital trended down in March, at 4,600 units compared with 5,175 in February, the Canadian Morgage and Housing Corporation said Friday.

“Elevated condominium starts in the preceding three years are gradually translating into higher inventories of completed and unsold units, which has led builders to reduce apartment starts this year. In addition, weak employment is keeping starts activity at bay,” CMHC Ottawa market analyst Anne-Marie Shaker said in a statement, noting this was the fourth straight month of lower trends across all dwelling types.

The core area led the way with 30 per cent of the March starts, due to the larger amount of apartment buildings in that area. Twenty per cent of the starts were in Gloucester outside the greenbelt and 29 per cent were in Nepean outside the greenbelt and in Kanata.

The CMHC said more single starts are happening in peripheral areas where they are cheaper.

March was a stronger month for housing starts in most parts of the country, according to the CMHC numbers

Its seasonally adjusted rate was 189,708 units last month, up from 151,238 in February.

Most of the growth came from multiple-unit dwellings, especially in urban areas.

Starts of multiple-unit dwellings such as condos and apartments was up 48.2 per cent, rising to 125,263 units on an annualized basis March.

Construction on detached urban houses accounted to 52,196 units of the total, down 3.4 per cent from February.

Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and the Prairies saw increases in urban housing construction, while the Atlantic region had a decline.

CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan says the month-to-month comparison is only part of the story and the trend has moved lower since September "partly reflecting efforts to manage the level of completed but unsold units."

The six-month trend in March was 179,016 units, down from 180.236 in February.

-with files from the Canadian Press