Canadian housing starts defy expectations and rise in January

OTTAWA — The annual pace of new housing starts defied expectations and picked up in January, as more multiple-unit starts offset a drop in single-detached starts, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says.The federal agency said Monday the seasonally adjusted annual rate increased to 187,276 units in January, up from 179,637 in December.Economists had expected the rate to come in at 178,000, according to Thomson Reuters.The increase came as the rate of new home starts in urban areas rose to 172,322 units in January from 161,940 in December, led by an increase in multi-unit homes including condominiums, townhouses and apartments.The rate of multiple urban starts increased to 115,008 units in January from 102,384 in December, while single-detached urban starts fell to 57,314 units last month from 59,556 in December.CMHC expects moderation in Canada’s housing market this year and nextLow rates seen fuelling Toronto’s surging housing market as Alberta markets stall“The expected slowing in housing starts in energy dependent regions in January failed to materialize, indicating that at this stage, the commodity price plunge is not yet negatively feeding through to confidence channels and into homebuilding activity,” Royal Bank economist Laura Cooper said.“Weakness also has yet to show up in the labour markets of oil-dependent provinces; however, recent reports indicate that existing home sales fell sharply in these regions in the month and downside risks to the resilience of these housing markets remain.”The Prairies saw the pace of urban housing starts climb to 53,326 in January, up from 41,192 in December, while Atlantic Canada also saw reported a jump in urban starts to 7,794, up from 5,377.Urban starts in Quebec slipped to 26,819 last month compared with 29,408 in the final month of 2014 as Ontario improved to 59,316, up from 56,798.B.C. saw urban starts drop to 25,067 from 29,165.Rural starts dropped to a rate of 14,954 in January from 17,697.CMHC said the six-month moving average in January was 188,956 units, down from 191,627 in December. read more