British Columbia Shows Positive Year-To-Date Housing Starts

September 18, 2023

Bob Dugan, Chief Economist, CMHC

OTTAWA – The trend in housing starts was flat in August at 244,507 units, up 0.8 per cent from 242,552 units in July, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly SAAR of total housing starts for all areas in Canada.

The monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of total housing starts for all areas in Canada decreased 1 per cent in August (252,787 units) compared to July (255,232 units).

The monthly SAAR of total urban (centres 10,000 population and over) housing starts decreased 1 per cent, with 233,075 units recorded in August. Multi-unit urban starts decreased 1 per cent to 191,250 units, while single-detached urban starts increased 2 per cent to 41,825 units in August.

Total SAAR housing starts were down 12 per cent in Vancouver and 20 per cent in Toronto in August, while Montreal recorded an increase of 41 per cent, driven by a 48 per cent increase in multi-units.

The rural starts monthly SAAR estimate was 19,712 units.

“While both the SAAR and trend in housing starts were flat relative to the previous month, total housing starts are under downward pressure in 2023, except in Ontario and British Columbia. The one bright spot in Canada has been multi-unit starts which have helped offset significant declines recorded in single-detached starts in all provinces this year. Market intelligence suggests multi-unit projects started during the busy summer months were likely financed a few months prior, so the full effect of higher interest rates on construction activity remains to be seen,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC Chief Economist.

Toronto and Vancouver have been performing well this year compared to last. Actual 2023 year-to-date housing starts were 28 per cent and 47 per cent higher, respectively, than the same period in 2022. As a result, Ontario and British Columbia are the only provinces with positive year-to-date housing starts in Canada.

Monthly Housing Starts and Other Construction Data are accessible in English and French on the website and the CMHC Housing Market Information Portal.

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