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Blog by Kevin Wong

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January Housing Stats Released from BC Stats and CMHC

The value of building permits issued by municipalities in British Columbia slipped 5.7% (seasonally adjusted) in December. An increase was recorded in residential permits (+2.4%), while drop-offs in the industrial (-38.6%), commercial (-20.8%), and institutional (-1.6%) sectors pushed total non-residential intentions down 17.1%. There was considerable variability among the province’s urban centres. While Abbotsford (+199.3%) and Kelowna (+42.3%) reported sizeable gains in December, the value of planned building projects in both Vancouver (-3.6%) and Victoria (-36.0%) was down. Nationally, the value of permits issued was higher (+2.4%) as gains in residential permits (+21.2%) compensated for a decline in planned non-residential projects (-22.0%).

Housing starts in the province slipped 6.0% (seasonally adjusted) in January, following a double-digit surge in November. Starts were up in most Eastern provinces, while the Central and Western regions did not fare as well. Canadian starts inched up 0.8%, with in-creases ranging from 1.9% in Quebec to 64.3% in Nova Scotia and Manitoba (-40.0%) posting the most notable decline.

Relative to the same month of 2009, the cost of new housing in BC’s largest city continued to creep up in December. Home builders in Vancouver received 0.6% more for their projects, while Victoria’s housing price index was slightly lower (-1.0%). Falling land value (-1.8%) in the capital city teamed up with a slight decline in new housing prices (-0.4%). On the other hand, an increase in the cost of houses in Vancouver (+2.0%) overpowered a continued decline in the price of land (-1.3%). Nationally, the new housing price index rose 6.2% during the twelve-month period ending in December.

Looking at 2010 overall, the value of building permits issued in BC totalled over $9.7 billion by the close of 2010, an increase of 27.8% over the previous year. The increase was entirely due to a rise in residential permits (+50.1%) as the value of planned non-residential construction was off (-4.2%) with declines in the industrial (-6.5%) and institutional (-12.7%) sectors completely overshadowing a slight climb in the commercial sector (+1.7%). Nationally, all but one province (New Brunswick, -0.5%) posted increases last year. Gains made in Newfoundland & Labrador (+64.7%), PEI (+39.5%) and Ontario (+29.6%) were among the most significant.