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Housing Starts On The Upswing: CMHC

Multiple-unit home construction picked up in Metro Vancouver in 2011 following a downturn in that segment, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

“We’re seeing more multi-family construction again,” CMHC senior market analyst Robyn Adamache said in an interview Tuesday. “It declined after 2009.”

“Builders were cautious with multi-family projects, but we’re seeing more now,” she added, citing solid market trends and a more positive economic outlook compared to a year ago as reasons for developers taking on larger projects.

“There has also been a decline in single-family home starts.”

CMHC said that there were 17,867 housing starts in the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in 2011, compared to 15,217 starts in 2010.

While housing starts rose sharply in North Vancouver and Richmond, they fell in Vancouver, the Tri-Cities and Delta.

Adamache noted there were 14,181 multiple-unit housing starts in 2011 compared to 10,684 units the previous year. Single detached housing starts declined to 3,686 units in 2011 compared to 4,533 units in 2010.

However, there were 1,199 housing starts in December, a 30-per-cent decrease compared to the same month a year ago.

Adamache said CMHC expects to see all housing starts increase slightly in 2012 to about 18,000 units.

The Abbotsford CMA reported 537 housing starts in 2011, compared to 516 in 2010.

Nationally, new home construction rose more than expected in December, also led by multiple-unit starts in urban centres in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, CMHC said.

However, Emanuella Enenajor, at CIBC World Markets, said despite the stronger-than-expected rise last month, it “still leaves housing starts tracking below the hearty pace seen in the summer.”

She added: “A sideways market in residential building permits confirms that while low interest rates are helping to support housing construction from measurably deteriorating, the market will likely flatten out from here — feeling the brunt of a slower pace of economic growth.”

On Monday, Statistics Canada reported that 2012 appears to be shaping up as a good year for B.C.’s construction industry, with the province leading the nation with the largest increase in building permits for November.