CMHC reports annual pace of housing starts slowed in February

Economists had expected an annual pace of 205,000

The annual pace of housing starts slowed in February as higher mortgage rates and less stimulative economic conditions helped soften demand, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Friday.

The housing agency said the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts fell to 173,153 units in February compared with 206,809 units the month before.

Economists had expected an annual pace of 205,000, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

“As a leading indicator of economic activity, February’s steep decline in housing starts may raise some eyebrows in Ottawa,” Fotios Raptis, senior economist at TD Bank, wrote in a report.

“Although housing starts seemed to be unscathed by the new B-20 regulations that took effect in January 2018, higher borrowing costs and tougher mortgage qualifying conditions may finally be taking a toll on new residential construction.”

The slowing housing starts come as sales of existing homes has also been slowing. The Canadian Real Estate Association reported home sales posted their weakest January since 2015.

Rising mortgage rates and tighter lending rules have been blamed for the slowdown in sales, prompting some to call on the federal government to make changes in the upcoming federal budget to help first-time homebuyers.

CIBC economist Royce Mendes said 2019 is shaping up to be a tougher year for homebuilding.

READ MORE: CMHC sets target to make housing affordable for every Canadian by 2030

“Residential investment was downright ugly in the fourth quarter, and the latest reading on housing starts only added to the bad news on Canadian homebuilding,” Mendes wrote.

“Prior to this reading, starts had seen a bit of a renaissance, rising back above 200,000 for four straight months. But the market has been a contending with the effects of higher interest rates and stricter lending standards, and a pace of 200,000 looked unlikely for the year as a whole.”

The overall decline in the pace of housing starts came as the annual rate of urban starts fell 18.0 per cent in February to 155,663 units.

The pace of urban multiple-unit projects such as condominiums, apartments and townhouses fell 20.2 per cent to 116,284 units, while single-detached urban starts dropped 10.6 per cent to 39,379 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,490 units.

The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts was 203,554 in February, down from 207,742 in January.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ice climbers scale Canada’s tallest waterfall on Vancouver Island

Ice climbers Chris Jensen, Will Gadd and Peter Hoang made history

Tofino woman beseeches town for nude beach

“They may enjoy a surf and then walk around naked and just be free.”

Comox overdose awareness display blessed by the Pope

Judith Conway created the display in honour of her son and others who have died of overdoses

Column: Electric cars aren’t a saviour yet on a warming globe

Producing energy for any type of low- or zero-emission vehicle has environmental trade-offs

Ucluelet Aquarium model spawning inspiration worldwide

Groups from B.C., Nova Scotia, the State of Washington and Scotland are learning from Ucluelet.

Mueller finds no Trump collusion, leaves obstruction open

But while Mueller fully ruled out criminal collusion, he was more circumspect on presidential obstruction of justice

Flu outbreak hits several facilities from Victoria to Parksville

42 people diagnosed at facility since March 15

Trudeau to campaign in Nanaimo on Monday

Prime minister to support Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidate Michelle Corfield

Vancouver Island shores will not rock in 2019

Atomique Productions announce Rock the Shores festival will not return in 2019, future is uncertain

Caps bow out after back-to-back overtime losses

Wenatchee Wild eliminate Cowichan from playoffs

Sparks fly as SUV speeds wrong way down Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

B.C. doctor fined $5,000 for accessing records of woman pregnant with his child

Doctor admits to accessing records of the woman carrying his child

Video service to compete with Netflix, Amazon expected from Apple on Monday

The iPhone has long been Apple’s marquee product and main money maker, but sales are starting to decline

Most Read