Housing stars in the Calgary region plunged in April as both the single-detached and the multi-family markets saw a decrease in activity compared with a year ago.
Statistics released on Wednesday by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. showed there were 254 single-detached starts for the month in the Calgary census metropolitan area. That was down 26 per cent from April 2018. Multi-family starts of 701 were off 19 per cent year over year.
In the Edmonton census metropolitan area, single-detached starts of 323 declined by 29 per cent on an annual basis but the multi-family market saw a whopping increase of 48 per cent to 546 units.
Nationally, the trend in housing starts was 206,103 units in April compared to 202,420 units in March. The 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 April, as higher-trending multi-unit starts offset a continued decline in the trend for single starts, in urban areas,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist, in a news release. “The increase in the trend of multi-unit starts reflects a strong recovery in multi-unit SAAR activity in March and April from consecutive declines at the end of 2018 and the first months of 2019.”
The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 235,460 units in April, up 22.6 per cent from 191,981 units in March. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 24 per cent in April to 220,387 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 29.6 per cent to 175,732 units in April while single-detached urban starts increased by six per cent to 44,655 units.
Royce Mendes, an economist with CIBC, said homebuilding roared back in April, following a few slower months.
“The two provinces facing the most challenging housing environments, B.C. and Ontario, appear to have seen the greatest pickup in activity over the month. That said, the bulk of the gain came from the volatile multiples category and, as a result, suggests that the pace will likely settle back down in the months to come,” he wrote in a commentary note.
“Moreover, some of this could be simply making up for the soft February and March prints when adverse weather conditions likely held back building. Still, with permits looking healthy and mortgage rates not moving higher for the moment, housing could look a bit healthier than previously anticipated.”
– Mario Toneguzzi