Housing starts trend slides in May

With various restrictions on construction having a negative impact on housing starts, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has reported that the trend in starts went from 198,644 units in April of 2020 to 196,750 in May, a decline that was not unexpected.

Excluding Quebec, where residential construction was halted for almost a month, the national trend for Canada was 151,072 units in May 2020, down from 155,600 units in April. This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly SAAR of housing starts.

CMHC charts outlining preliminary housing start data in centres with populations above 10,000 are almost flat year-over-year, falling from 16,409 in May of 2019 to 16,101 this past May, a drop of two per cent.

Year-to-date figures released by CMHC on June 8 for centres larger than 10,000 residents had 2020 sitting at 67,037 starts, down from the 70,150 reported for the same period in 2019, while completions came in at 67,301 for 2020, slightly higher than the 66,208 units from one year earlier.

“Outside of Quebec, the national trend in housing starts decreased in May,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist. “Higher multi-family starts in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces were offset by declines in British Columbia and the Prairies. We expect national starts to continue to register declines in the near term, reflecting the impact of COVID-19 measures.”

Preliminary Housing Starts data are available through the CMHC website and through CMHC’s Housing Market Information Portal.