Multi-Unit Construction Continues to Lift Canadian Housing Starts in September

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) on Wednesday (10-18-23) reported that the trend in housing starts was higher in September, up 3.9% to 254,006 units from August’s 244,511 units. The “trend” measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of total housing starts for all areas in Canada.

The monthly SAAR of total housing starts for all areas in Canada increased 8% in September to 270,466 units compared to 250,383 units in August.

The monthly SAAR of total urban centers housing starts (population of 10,000+) increased 9%, with 250,766 units recorded in September. Multi-unit urban starts increased 10% to 207,689 units, while single-detached urban starts increased 3% to 43,077 in September. The SAAR for rural monthly starts was estimated at 19,700 units.

In September, total SAAR housing starts were up 98% in Montreal and 20% in Toronto. That was offset by Vancouver posting a 17% decline driven by both single-detached, down 12%, and multi-unit, down 18%.

Adding additional background and analysis to the report, CMHC Chief Economist Bob Dugan said:

“Both the SAAR and trend in housing starts were higher in September. Multi-unit starts activity has persisted and maintained similar levels to 2022 despite the higher interest rate environment. This has helped offset double-digit declines in single-detached starts in all provinces. In fact, September was the second highest month this year for multi-unit starts. It seems the current higher interest rate environment has not yet had the expected negative impact on multi-unit construction activity so far in 2023.”

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