Canada’s Housing Starts Trending Down in January

The 2023 Affordable Housing Survey conducted by Habitat for Humanity Canada has highlighted that housing affordability remains a dominant concern for Canadians, alongside inflation and healthcare access.

TORONTO – BUSINESS – Total Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SARR) housing starts for all areas in Canada decreased 10% in January 2024 (223,589 units) compared to December 2023 (248,968), according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

SAAR housing starts refers to the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate of housing starts. This is a statistical measure used to estimate the total number of new residential construction projects that begin in a given period, adjusted to account for seasonal variations in construction activity.

The adjustment allows for a more accurate comparison of data across different times of the year, as construction tends to increase in warmer months and decrease during colder periods due to weather conditions affecting work.

The six-month trend in housing starts decreased from 249,757 units in December 2023 to 244,827 units in January 2024, a 2% drop.

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.

Despite these declines, the actual number of housing starts across Canada in centres of 10,000 population and over was up 13% to 14,878 units in January 2024 compared to 13,220 units in January 2023. The year-over-year increase was driven by high multi-unit starts.

Actual housing starts were 49% higher year-over-year in Toronto but were 44% and 6% lower in Vancouver and Montreal, respectively. This suggests many other metropolitan areas made significant contributions to total housing starts in January 2024.

Key Facts:
  • The monthly SAAR of total urban (centres 10,000 population and over) housing starts decreased 11%, with 208,119 units recorded. Multi-unit urban starts decreased 14% to 164,789 units, while single-detached urban starts increased 0.08% to 43,330 units.
  • The rural starts monthly SAAR estimate was 15,470 units.
  • Total SAAR housing starts were up 179% in Toronto, driven by a significant increase in multi-unit starts. Montreal and Vancouver both posted declines of 28% and 55%, respectively, due to sizeable decreases in multi-unit starts.
  • Monthly Housing Starts and Other Construction Data are accessible in English and French on our website and the CMHC Housing Market Information Portal.
  • Housing starts data is available on the eleventh business day each month. We will release the February housing starts data on March 15 at 8:15 AM ET.
  • CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and to 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.
  • Definitions and methodology to better understand the foundations of the Starts and Completions and Market Absorption surveys.

As a trusted source of housing information, CMHC provides unbiased housing-related data, research, and market information to help close knowledge gaps, and deepen understanding of complex housing issues to inform future policy decisions. Housing starts facilitate the analysis of monthly, quarterly, and year-over-year activity in the new home market. The data we collect as part of our Starts and Completions and Market Absorption surveys helps us obtain a clearer picture of upcoming new housing supply and is used as part of our various housing reports.

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