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CMHC says annual pace of housing starts in Canada down 22% in November

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) has reported a significant downturn in the annual pace of housing starts for the month of November, revealing a 22% decrease compared to the previous month. This revelation comes amid a dynamic housing market and evolving economic conditions.

In November, the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts plummeted to 212,624 units, marking a sharp decline from the October figure of 272,264 units. The most noticeable decline occurred in the urban sector, where the annual pace of starts fell by 23% to 195,363 units. Within the urban category, multi-unit starts experienced a substantial 27% decrease, reaching 151,297 units. Single-detached urban starts also witnessed a decline, albeit less steep, dropping by 7% to 44,066 units.

Cities across Canada experienced varied impacts, with Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver being particularly affected. Montreal saw a 30% decrease in the rate of housing starts, while both Toronto and Vancouver faced a substantial 39% drop. The primary driver behind this decline was the stark reduction in multi-unit starts in these metropolitan areas.

In a more detailed breakdown, the annual pace of rural starts for November was estimated at 17,261 units, providing a contrasting picture to the challenges faced in urban settings. This emphasizes the urban-rural divide in the current housing market dynamics.

The six-month moving average, a key indicator reflecting the overall trend, revealed a modest 0.7% increase in the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts in November compared to October. The average stood at 257,777 units, up from 255,876 units in the previous month. While this marginal increase may suggest some stabilization, it is essential to monitor future trends to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the housing market's trajectory.

Several factors could be contributing to this decline in housing starts. Economic uncertainties, supply chain disruptions, and changing consumer preferences in the wake of the ongoing global events could be influencing the decisions of both builders and potential homeowners. Additionally, stricter lending policies and rising interest rates may be contributing to a more cautious approach in the real estate sector.

CMHC's report underscores the importance of closely monitoring housing market trends and adapting policies to address the evolving challenges. As Canada navigates the complex landscape of its real estate market, stakeholders, including policymakers, builders, and consumers, will need to collaborate to ensure a resilient and sustainable housing sector that meets the needs of the population.

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