Business

Housing starts tick up in May on condo rebound

Construction started on many more homes in May mainly due to an increase in multiple-unit structures such as condominiums, Canada's national housing agency said Monday.

Construction started on many more homes in May mainly due to an increase in multiple-unit structures such as condominiums, Canada's national housing agency said Monday.

The CMHC said the seasonally adjusted annual rate of new housing starts was at 201,705 units in May. That's up from 183,329 units in April and the highest level we've seen for housing starts since July of 2014.

Housing starts are considered a leading economic indicator as they are a rough gauge of confidence in the economy, because builders don't build homes unless they're confident of being able to sell them to equally confident buyers.

While the pace of single-family home construction was essentially flat at just under 59,000 units,multi-unit urban starts (which includes both condos and apartment buildings) increased by 16.9 per cent to 126,367 units.

Across the country, the pace of new home construction increased in Atlantic Canada, Ontario and Québec, while it decreased in British Columbia and the Prairies. 

TD Bank economist Randall Bartlett said "the major surprise in the details is the strength in housing starts in oil-producing provinces, as Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador (up 63.8 per cent) all posted gains."

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