Triple-digit increase in multiple-family construction

For the fourth month in a row, July recorded triple-digit multi-family unit starts in Winnipeg and the surrounding municipalities, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

As has been the case for much of 2007, multiple-family starts made up the bulk of the year-over-year increase in new homes.

“Even if no additional foundations were to be poured for multi-family dwellings for the rest of the year, 2007 would be the second best year on record for multi-family starts since 1988,” said Jeff Powell, CMHC’s senior market analyst.

“The data shows that demand for new multi-family dwellings is coming from a wide spectrum, including renters, condominium buyers, and seniors seeking to move to an adult lifestyle setting,” he added.

The 103 multiple-family starts in July brought the year-to-date activity to 903 units, which is nearly 81 per cent higher than the 500 units recorded in the first seven months of 2006.

In all 2006, there were only four months that recorded over 100 multiple-family dwelling starts.

Across the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area (city and surrounding municipalities), there were a total of 273 housing starts, about 26 per cent more than the 217 units started in July 2006.

Single-detached home starts closely matched last year’s pace. There was only one start more recorded in the first seven months of 2006. To the end of July, there were 1,050 starts this year.

In July, there were 170 foundations poured for single-family homes in the CMA, which was down 14 per cent from July 2006, but still the second highest month thus far in 2007.

CMHC said the wet weather toward the end of June and into the beginning of July had a negative impact on starts as builders had difficulty easily accessing building sites.

With 149 completions and 146 absorptions, the market continues to strike a balance between supply and demand, according to CMHC.

Across Canada, the seasonally-adjusted annual rate of housing starts was 215,600 units in July, down from 225,300 units in June, according to CMHC.

“Housing starts in July continued their gradual decreasing trend as both multiple and single-detached starts declined,” said Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre. 

“The lower level of housing starts this month is consistent with our forecast of a gradual easing in the pace of new home construction in 2007 caused by rising prices and slightly higher mortgage rates.”

The seasonally-adjusted annual rate of urban starts decreased 5.7 per cent to 181,800 in July, compared to June. Urban singles were down 2.7 per cent to 89,700 units in July, while multiple starts decreased 8.4 per cent to 92,100 units.

Actual starts, in rural and urban areas combined, were down an estimated 4.8 per cent in the first seven months of 2007 compared to the same period in 2006. In urban areas, actual total starts fell an estimated six per cent year-to-date with both single and multiple starts declining by 6.7 per cent and 5.2 per cent, respectively.