Condo and townhouse construction helped push up housing starts in Toronto in January, while it slipped sizably in the rest of Canada.
Condo and townhouse construction helped push up housing starts in Toronto in January, contrary to most of the rest of the country where they slipped below expectations.
In fact, the decline in starts across most of Canada were so sizable, “housing is tracking as a drag effect on the economy in the first quarter of the new year,” according to Scotiabank economics.
There’s no way of knowing how significant a role weather played, notes Scotiabank, although one thing is clearer: that the record year of condo sales across the GTA in 2011, when more than 28,000 units sold, is now playing out on the ground and bolstering building, and construction employment, across the GTA.
“Low mortgage rates and employment gains (in the GTA region) experienced through 2013 continued to support housing demand,” said Ed Heese, senior market analyst for Toronto for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which released the housing start numbers Monday.
While national housing starts averaged 194,700 on an annualized basis in the fourth quarter of 2013, they sank by about 7.5 per cent in the first quarter of this year to a projected 180,200 starts for 2014, below expectations of about 185,000 starts, notes Scotiabank.
While Ontario offset some of the declines with a 9 per cent increase in starts in January over December, Atlantic Canada saw a 25 per cent decline in starts, followed by Quebec which was down 21 per cent and British Columbia some 17 per cent, month over month.
The Prairies saw gains of 10 per cent, notes Scotiabank.