Hamilton's housing starts were down in December compared to the same month the previous year, but builds of all types in the city in 2012 were up for the year overall, a market analyst says.

There were 2,354 housing starts in the Hamilton census metropolitan area (CMA) in December, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

The report includes a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. The standalone monthly SAAR for Hamilton was 2,162 units in December, down from 2,823 units in November.

"Hamilton's total housing starts were down in December 2012 from the same month a year ago," said Abdul Kargbo, CMHC's Senior Market Analyst for Hamilton and Brantford CMAs.

But, he says, starts of all housing types over the past year increased from the year before.

"Low mortgage rates, positive migration flows and fewer listings on the existing home market supported residential construction activity in 2012 — particularly during the first half of the year," Kargbo said.

The CMHC uses this trend measure to complement the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for swings in monthly estimates and to garner a more complete picture the housing market, the organization said in a release.

In some situations, the release states, analysing only SAAR data can be misleading, because it is largely driven by "multiples," which can shift wildly from one month to the next because of rentals. "Multiples" include apartments, row houses and semi-detached homes.