Canadian housing starts drop to annual rate of 220,215 in September, down from 225,328 a month earlier; urban starts down 3% to 203,731 units, rural starts estimated at 16,484 units

Allison Oesterle

Allison Oesterle

Oct 9, 2012 – Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC)

OTTAWA , October 9, 2012 (press release) – Housing starts in Canada were trending at 224,419 units annually in September, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six month moving average of the seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR)1 of housing starts. The standalone monthly SAAR was 220,215 units in September, down from 225,328 in August.

“Housing starts in September were largely in line with the latest trend figure. The monthly decrease posted in September was mostly due to a decrease in urban multiples starts. As expected, the number of multiples starts in Ontario, particularly in Toronto, reverted back to a level more in line with the average pace of activity over the last six months,” said Mathieu Laberge, Deputy Chief Economist at CMHC. “Following a period of elevated housing starts activity due to strong volumes of multi-family unit pre-sales in 2010 and 2011, the pace of housing starts is expected to moderate.”

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 more complete picture of the state of the housing market. In some situations, analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multiples segment of the markets which can be quite variable from one month to the next.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts decreased by 3.0 per cent to 203,731 units in September. Urban singles starts decreased by 1.4 per cent in September to 67,643 units, while multiples urban starts decreased by 3.9 per cent to 136,088 units.

September’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 17.6 per cent in the Prairies and by 20.3 per cent in Atlantic Canada. Urban starts remained relatively unchanged in Quebec (+1.3 per cent). Urban starts decreased by 3.7 per cent in British Columbia and by 18.2 per cent in Ontario.

Rural starts2 were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16,484 units in September.

As Canada's national housing agency, CMHC draws on more than 65 years of experience to help Canadians access a variety of quality, environmentally sustainable and affordable housing solutions. CMHC also provides reliable, impartial and up-to-date housing market reports, analysis and knowledge to support and assist consumers and the housing industry in making informed decisions.

Preliminary Housing Starts data are also available in English and French at the following link: Preliminary Housing Starts Tables

1 All starts figures in this release, other than actual starts and the trend estimate, are seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) — that is, monthly figures adjusted to remove normal seasonal variation and multiplied by 12 to reflect annual levels. By removing seasonal ups and downs, seasonal adjustment allows for a comparison from one season to the next and from one month to the next. Reporting monthly figures at annual rates indicates the annual level of starts that would be obtained if the monthly pace was maintained for 12 months. This facilitates comparison of the current pace of activity to annual forecasts as well as to historical annual levels.

2 CMHC estimates the level of starts in centres with a population of less than 10,000 for each of the three months of the quarter, at the beginning of each quarter. During the last month of the quarter, CMHC conducts the survey in these centres and revises the estimate.

Additional data is available upon request.

Housing Starts in Canada — All Areas

Preliminary Housing Start Data
September / 2011 – 2012
Canada September 2011 September 2012
Actual, all areas 18,670 19,750
Actual, rural areas 2,079 2,144
Actual, urban centres1    
September — Single-Detached 6,263 6,159
September — Multiples 10,328 11,447
September — Total 16,591 17,606
January to Sept. — Single-Detached 49,497 50,468
January to September — Multiples 77,841 96,011
January to September — Total 127,338 146,479
  August 2012 September 2012
SAAR2, all areas 225,328 220,215
SAAR, rural areas 15,210 16,484
SAAR, urban centres1    
Single-Detached 68,575 67,643
Multiples 141,543 136,088
Total 210,118 203,731
Atlantic region, urban centres 12,499 15,036
Quebec, urban centres 41,950 42,515
Ontario, urban centres 86,189 70,486
Prairie region, urban centres 41,247 48,495
British Columbia, urban centres 28,233 27,199

Source: CMHC

1 Urban centres with a population of 10,000 and over.
2 Seasonally Adjusted at Annual Rates
Detailed data available upon request.  

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