Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Housing Starts Fall in October with Drops in All Regions, CMHC Says

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Housing Starts Fall in October with Drops in All Regions, CMHC Says

Article excerpt

Housing starts down in October: CMHC

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OTTAWA - The pace of home building slowed in October to a softer reading than economists expected in a report by the federal mortgage insurer, providing yet more evidence of a cooling housing market.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Thursday there were 17,507 actual housing starts last month. That translates into a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 204,107 starts, down almost nine per cent from an annual rate of 223,995 recorded in September.

CMHC said there were drops in both single- and multiple-unit starts in urban areas last month.

Declines were recorded in all regions, with Quebec reporting the biggest drop at 16.9 per cent.

"The monthly decrease in total housing starts posted in October was mostly due to a decrease in both single and multiple starts in urban centres in Quebec and the Prairies," Mathieu Laberge, deputy chief economist at CMHC, said in a release.

"Multiple starts also declined in many urban centres in Ontario, more than offsetting an increase in such starts in Toronto."

Seasonally-adjusted urban starts decreased 1.5 per cent in British Columbia, 6.4 per cent in Ontario, 12.3 per cent in the Prairies, and 16.8 per cent in Atlantic Canada.

The agency, which provides mortgage insurance to home buyers and market intelligence to the real-estate industry, estimates rural starts came in at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 21,973 units in October.

Earlier this week, the federal Crown corporation predicted 177,300 to 209,900 of housing units will be started next year -- substantially less than the forecast of 210,800 to 216,600 for 2012.

Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney said the slowdown is consistent with the bank's expectations.

"We view household formation around 190,000 annualized and the starts are a little north of 200,000, so they've slowed from a very rapid pace to a pace that's still above household formation," Carney said in Montreal.

"We're expecting this decreased contribution from housing relative to GDP... We're starting to see some things that are consistent with that, so it's entirely consistent with expectations."

Emanuella Enenajor of CIBC WM Economics noted that "despite low (interest) rates and surprisingly resilient investor demand, housing construction looks to be struggling to attain new heights in recent months. …

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