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The Number of Housing Starts Decreased in Canada and in Québec in February 2013

The Number of Housing Starts Decreased in Canada and in Québec in February 2013

According to preliminary data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), housing starts in Canadian centres with 10,000 or more inhabitants decreased by 11 per cent in February 2013 compared to February of last year. In total, there were 10,302 housing starts in Canadian urban centres in February 2013.

In Québec, after having decreased by 18 per cent in December 2012 and by 14 per cent in January 2013, the number of housing starts fell again in February 2013. Foundations were laid for 1,485 dwellings, a 24 per cent decrease compared to February 2012. Half of the province’s Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) registered a decrease in housing starts. The Gatineau and Trois-Rivières CMAs registered the sharpest drops at 86 and 43 per cent, respectively. The Montréal CMA also registered a decrease in housing starts with a 21 per cent drop. Conversely, the Québec City CMA posted an increase of 13 %, while that of Sherbrooke registered a gain of 2 %. Finally, there were 30 housing starts in the Saguenay CMA in February 2013, compared to 15 in February 2012.

The chart below provides an overview of housing starts in February 2013 in Canada, in Québec and in the six province’s CMAs.

Details About Housing Starts

Preliminary housing start data are published by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) on the sixth working day of every month. The data released by the CMHC account for the number of dwellings for which construction has started during the month in question. Data are issued monthly for the six Census Metropolitan Areas and for urban centres with a population of 50,000 to 99,999 inhabitants (Drummondville, Granby, Saint-Hyacinthe, Shawinigan and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu), and they distinguish between single-detached houses and multiple dwelling units (semi-detached or townhouses and apartments). Housing start data for urban centres with 10,000 to 49,999 inhabitants are issued on a quarterly basis.

Housing Starts and the Existing-Home Market in Québec

Housing starts, as an indicator of the residential construction market, provide valuable information on the vitality of the real estate industry in general. However, if the increase in the number of new dwellings is greater than the long-term household formation trend, this situation would lead to an increase in the inventory of new, unsold homes, and could compete with the market of existing homes.