Canadian housing starts register decline in 2018

January 12, 2019

The trend in housing starts was 206,981 units in December 2018, compared to 212,338 units in November 2018, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.

The figures represent a fifth decline in the last six months and meant there were fewer housing starts in 2018 than in 2017, when there were a record 221,000 starts. However, total housing starts remain elevated when compared to historical averages.

In total, starts fell in Vancouver CMA last year by 11% compared to 2017, while Edmonton also saw a large annual decrease of 12%. Regina saw the biggest fall in starts in 2018, registering a 41% decline from 1,923 units in 2017 to 1,139 units.

At the opposite end of the spectrum was Victoria, which recorded its largest number of housing starts since 1976. The figure of 4,273, about half of which were rental units, was 411 higher than in 2017.
The Toronto CMA saw the most apartment starts ever recorded and overall housing starts were up 6% from a year ago.

High prices, borrowing costs and a widening price gap with resale market alternatives weighed down significantly on single-detached starts, which were the lowest in almost four decades.

In Montreal, starts rose by 1%, led by a rise in rental apartment starts (+8%) which hit a 30-year record high.