New home construction takes place in a development in Oakville, Ont., on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

New home construction takes place in a development in Oakville, Ont., on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Canadian homebuilding remains strong despite 20% drop in September, say economists

Economists had expected an annual rate of 240,000 starts in September

Canada’s homebuilding activity remained historically strong last month even though the annual pace of starts plunged 20 per cent from August, economists said Thursday.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts was 208,980 units in September, down from 261,547 units in August but in line with average readings in 2019.

Economists had expected an annual rate of 240,000 starts in September, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

The decrease was driven by weakness in Ontario and British Columbia and lower starts in condos.

However, the six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts rose slightly to 214,647 in September, up from 212,609 in August.

“The national trend in housing starts was largely unchanged in September,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist.

COVID-19 has resulted in volatility in multi-family starts, especially in Toronto.

“We expect national starts to trend lower by the end of 2020 as a result of the negative impact of COVID-19 on economic and housing indicators,” he said in a news release.

Broader demand trends remain resilient in the near-term with the level of starts remaining strong by historical standards, said RBC economist Claire Fan.

“Average starts from January to September were one per cent above the same period in 2019 — despite COVID-19 containment measures that shut down wide swaths of the economy in the spring,” she wrote in a report.

“And in Quebec and Ontario, average starts continued to outpace the national comparable while the others, most notably BC, lagged.”

Fan noted that the issuance of permits has remained strong, “suggesting still-solid momentum for housing starts in the near-term.”

Housing starts averaged 237,300 units in the third quarter, up 22.2 per cent from 194,100 units in the second quarter.

“Moving forward, past pre-construction sales gains and low rates should ensure that starts remain elevated through next year,” TD economist Rishi Sondhi wrote.

“Afterwards, some slowing may take place as softer population growth brought upon by the pandemic weighs on housing demand, and ultimately, homebuilding.”

The annual pace of urban starts fell 21.1 per cent in September to 195,909 with starts down in eight of 10 provinces:

Housing starts in Ontario fell by nearly 37,000 units to 78,700 while activity in B.C. fell by 10,900 units to 30,700 units.

Homebuilding activity in Quebec dropped by 7,500 to 48,000 units.

Alberta drove higher starts in the Prairie region where urban starts climbed by 5,700 to 24,800 units, offsetting losses in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Starts in Atlantic Canada slipped with declines in every province but Nova Scotia.

The pace of urban starts of apartments, condos and other types of multiple-unit housing projects decreased 27 per cent to 146,005 units, while single-detached urban starts increased 3.4 per cent to 49,904.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 13,071 units.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

COVID
Red Deer down to 313 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta reports an additional 411 COVID-19 cases

Seniors in the 65-unit Piper Creek Lodge are among those waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Central Alberta senior lodges anxiously waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations

“Should be at the front of the line, not the back of the line”

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Economists “cautiously hopeful” for economic recovery in Alberta

Charles St. Arnaud says Alberta’s recovery will rebound along with roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Kiara Robillard is seen in an undated handout photo. When the pandemic began, Robillard had to rush back home to Alberta from California, where she had been living for five years, after she was struck by a truck that broke her spine in two places. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Kiara Robillard, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘It kind of clicks:’ Text4Hope program helps with depression, anxiety during pandemic

Participants receive one text message every morning for three months

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

A decommissioned pumpjack is shown at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. The Alberta Energy Regulator says it is suspending all of the licences held by an oil and gas producer with more than 2,200 wells and 2,100 pipelines after it failed to bring its operations into compliance. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta Energy Regulator suspends licences of oil and gas producer that owes $67M

The company is being asked to comply with past orders to clean up historic spills and contamination

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Pictured here is Stettler’s Jenner Smith with a guide dog from Aspen Service Dogs. An online auction will be running soon to help raise funds for Jenner to receive his very own service dog later this year. Jenner, who is four years old, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2019. photo submitted
An online auction is planned to raise funds for a service dog for a Stettler family

Jenner Smith, four, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2019

Most Read