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May 2015 Housing Starts in Canada

OTTAWA — The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 181,231 units in May compared to 179,524 in April, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR)1 of housing starts.

“The small increase in the trend was primarily driven by higher multiple starts in Ontario, the Atlantic region, and Québec. Despite month-to-month variation in multiple starts, CMHC expects builders will continue to focus on managing inventory of completed but unsold units — inventory that is still above historical average,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s Chief Economist. “CMHC also forecasts slight moderation in housing starts in 2015 and 2016, reflecting a slowdown in housing market activity in oil-producing provinces that will partly be offset by increased activity in provinces that are seeing the positive impacts of low oil prices.”

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 Canada’s housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next.

The standalone monthly SAAR was 201,705 units in May, up from 183,329 units in April. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 10.8 per cent in May to 185,235 units. Multi-unit urban starts increased by 16.9 per cent to 126,367 units in May, while the single-detached urban starts segment essentially held steady at 58,868 units.

In May, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased in Atlantic Canada, Ontario and Québec, while it decreased in British Columbia and the Prairies.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16,470 units.

As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers objective housing research and information to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry.

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.





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