Canadian Housing Starts Edge Lower in March

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reported today (4-19-22) that the trend in housing starts in Canada was 252,497 units in March, down from 253,296 units February. This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of housing starts.

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 clearer picture of upcoming new housing supply. 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 total housing starts for all areas in Canada in March was 246,243 units, a decrease of -2% from February. The SAAR of total urban starts decreased by -2% to 220,708 units in March. Multi-unit urban starts decreased by -5% to 154,876 units, while single-detached urban starts increased by 8% to 65,832 units. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 25,535 units.

In a statement prepared for the March Housing Trend Report, Bob Dugan, CMHC’s Chief Economist, said:

“On a trend and monthly SAAR basis, the level of housing starts activity in Canada remains historically high, hovering above 200,000 units since June 2020; however, the trend in housing starts posted a small decline from February to March. The decline in the monthly SAAR housing starts in Canada’s urban areas, was driven by lower multi-unit starts, which were partially offset by higher single-detached starts in March. Among Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, Montreal was the only market to post growth in total SAAR starts, which was driven by higher multi-unit starts.”

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