Condominium boom boosts Ottawa’s housing numbers

A large jump in the construction of condominiums helped boost housing starts for the Ottawa area in January, according to figures released Friday by Canada’s housing agency the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

The number of new units under construction went from 484 in January 2012 to 512 during the same month this year – an increase of five per cent.

But the January numbers masked a sharp drop in the construction of single-detached dwellings such as ordinary houses. There were 50 such housing starts in January of this year, compared to 122 a year earlier.

“The year started off with housing starts activity boosted by a rise in condominium construction. Total starts for January rose 6 per cent over the same period a year earlier,” said Anne-Marie Shaker, a CMHC market analyst for Ottawa, in a news release.

“However, construction of single-detached units retreated by over half of their 2012 level capturing only 10 per cent of total starts.”

The six-month moving average, which CMHC says tends to over-represent multi-unit dwellings, also increased from 4,202 in December 2012 to 6,521 in January 2013.

The Ottawa numbers bucked the national trend. Housing starts across the country declined by about 24 per cent from January 2012 to January 2013.