Canadian Housing Starts Trended Higher In December After Brief Dip

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OTTAWA: The trend in housing starts was 239,052 units in December 2020, up from 236,334 units in November 2020.

This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.

“The national trend in housing starts increased in December 2020,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist.

“Following pandemic-induced declines in early-2020, the trend in total housing starts has registered steady gains since May 2020. Despite the on-going pandemic, these gains leave the year-end 2020 SAAR of total starts above the 2019 annual total.”

Due to COVID-19, CMHC’s monthly Starts and Completions Survey (SCS) for December 2020 was not conducted in the Kelowna CMA. This did not impact the overall trend direction in December.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation will resume the SCS in Kelowna for January. We will continue to monitor the situation in each centre and adjust the SCS accordingly.

CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of Canada’s housing market.

In some situations, analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as the multi-unit segment largely drives the market and can vary significantly from one month to the next.

The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada excluding Kelowna CMA decreased by 12.2% in December from November. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 12.8% in December.

Multiple urban starts decreased by 15.1% while single-detached urban starts decreased by
5.5%.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 22,373 units. A housing start is defined as the beginning of construction work on the building where the dwelling unit will be located.

This can be described in 2 ways:
• usually, the stage when the concrete has been poured for the whole of the footing around the structure; or

• an equivalent stage where a basement will not be part of the structure. As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers objective housing research and information to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry.