Ottawa housing starts jump in August

Home construction
Home construction

Local homebuilders continued their rapid pace of construction last month, breaking ground on 941 new homes in August – a 52-per-cent increase compared to a year earlier, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing figures.

The streak of higher-than-normal activity stretches back over nearly two years, buoyed by a hot housing market and renewed buyer confidence.

“The residential construction industry will continue to have a very busy year with pent-up demand,” said Josh Kardish, the vice-president of eQ Homes, earlier this year.

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Broken down by housing segment, the CMHC said the number of single-family home starts increased 79 per cent to 317 properties, while all other homes – such as condos and stacked townhouses – increased 42 per cent to 624 properties.

The CMHC also calculates a seasonally adjusted annualized figure of monthly housing starts. By that measurement, the industry broke ground on an annualized rate of 10,839 units, which shows how hot August was for the homebuilding sector. Last year, the industry started actual construction on 7,457 homes. A year earlier, it was just 5,298 units.

Nationally, the CMHC said the pace of housing construction starts slowed in August compared with July.

The agency says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts was 200,986 units in August, down from 205,751 units in July.

Economists had expected an annual pace of 210,300 starts for August, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

The decrease came as the annual pace of urban starts fell 2.5 per cent to 184,925 units. Starts of urban multiple-unit projects such as condos, apartments and townhouses fell 2.4 per cent to 132,700 units in August while single-detached urban starts fell 2.6 per cent to 52,225 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16,061 units.

CMHC says the six-month trend for housing starts was 214,598 units in August, down from 219,656 in July.

“The national trend in housing starts continued to decline in August from the historical peak that was recorded in March 2018,” CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan said.

“This moderation brings total starts closer to historical averages, largely reflecting recent declines in the trend of multi-unit starts from historically elevated levels earlier in the year.”

– With reporting by the Canadian Press

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