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Blog by Kevin Wong

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March 2011 Housing Starts

The seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of housing starts was 188,800 units in March, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This is up from 183,700 units in February 2011.

“Housing starts moved higher in March mostly because of increases in rural starts,” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre. “Urban starts saw little change as the increase in Ontario’s multiples segment was off-set by a decrease in British Columbia’s multiples and a decrease in single housing starts in the Prairies.”

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 0.4 per cent to 163,500 units in March. Urban multiple starts were up by 6.6 per cent in March to 101,400 units, while single urban starts decreased by 8.3 per cent to 62,100 units.

March’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts decreased by 23.4 per cent in British Columbia and by 19.3 per cent in the Prairies. Urban starts increased by 13.6 per cent in Ontario, by 11.5 per cent in the Atlantic region and by 8.6 per cent in Québec.

Rural starts2 were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 25,300 units in March.

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 homes. 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, 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 makes it possible to highlight the fundamental trends of a series. 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.