Housing Starts Plummet 39%

By October 18, 2014Municipal Politics

Housing starts plummeted 39 percent in Abbotsford-Mission in September compared to September of 2013. In the last few weeks leading up to the November 15 election, the numbers bring into high relief what has been an ongoing problem in Abbotsford – the local economy.

For two election cycles economic indicators have been pretty dismal in Abbotsford compared to other jurisdictions. While economic growth has been sluggish across the country since the economic collapse of 2008, the Abbotsford indicators have been typically much worse than in the rest of Western Canada.

The real estate market, despite ups and downs in prices and sales, while it has recovered from the worst of 2008/09 has been terribly slow to recover in terms of building permit values and housing starts – two of the major economic drover of prosperity.

The area has posted the highest unemployment in Western Canada for over a decade.

Housing Starts Down
Abbotsford-Mission grew from a quiet 26 single-detached homes started last September to 30 this year, down 2 from August of this year and representing a 15% increase. In the ‘all others’ category, which includes commercial, industrial and residential, we dove from 104 from lst September to 20 this September, down from 24 August, representing a decrease of 81%.

Other major Western Canadian centers saw declines but not as precipitous..

Vancouver -5%
Victoria -32%
Edmonton +21%
Calgary +69%
Saskatoon -54%
Regina -16%
Winnipeg -33%
Looking at the numbers for last year and the dip since August, Abbotsford-Mission continues to be a dead housing market.

The National Picture

The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 197,747 units in September compared to 191,095 in August, 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 increase in the trend reflects stronger starts activity since April, largely concentrated in multi-unit dwellings including condominiums,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s Chief Economist. “However, the currently elevated level of condominium units under construction supports our view that condominium starts should trend lower over the coming months.”

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 multi-unit segment of the market which can be quite variable from one month to the next.

The standalone monthly SAAR was 197,343 units in September, up modestly from 196,283 in August. The SAAR of urban starts increased to 177,019 in September, from 176,234 in August. Multiple urban starts in September increased to 114,579 units while the single-detached urban starts segment decreased to 62,440 units.

In September, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts decreased in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada, and increased in Quebec, Ontario and the Prairies.

Rural starts2 were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 20,324 units.

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

As Canada’s national housing agency, CMHC draws on more than 65 years of experience to help Canadians access a variety of high 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.

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.

Information on this release:

Kate Munroe
CMHC Media Relations

Follow CMHC on Twitter @CMHC_ca

Additional data is available upon request.

Preliminary Housing Start Data
September 2014
August 2014 September 2014
Trend1, all areas 191,095 197,747
SAAR, all areas 196,283 197,343
SAAR, rural areas 20,049 20,324
SAAR, urban centres2
Single-detached 64,332 62,440
Multiples 111,902 114,579
Total 176,234 177,019
Atlantic, urban centres2 7,533 6,409
Quebec, urban centres2 29,807 34,767
Ontario, urban centres2 49,208 51,759
Prairies, urban centres2 55,731 56,514
British Columbia, urban centres2 33,955 27,570
Canada September 2013 September 2014
Actual, all areas 17,554 17,343
Actual, rural areas 2,108 1,948
Actual, urban centres2
September – Single-detached 5,838 5,653
September – Multiples 9,608 9,742
September – Total 15,446 15,395
January to September – Single-detached 47,056 46,195
January to September – Multiples 77,339 82,284
January to September – Total 124,395 128,479

Source: CMHC
1 The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR).
2 Urban centres with a population of 10,000 and over.
Detailed data available upon request. 

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