Single-family construction in Alberta falls to lowest level since 2009 recession

Construction of new single-family homes in Alberta fell in June to its lowest level since the 2009 recession, according to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada.

Apartment and condo construction also down but still above historical averages for past decade

Single-family home construction plunged by 32.8 per cent in June compared to the same month last year. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

Construction of new single-family homes in Alberta fell to the lowest level since the 2009 recession, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada, while apartment and condo construction remains relatively robust.

Total investment in single-family construction plunged to $338.6 million in June, down 32.8 per cent from the same month in 2015.

When compared in inflation-adjusted dollars, that's the lowest mark since July 2009.

Investment in new condo and apartment buildings, by contrast, fell 23.4 per cent to $183 million, but remains well above historical levels over the past decade.

Don Campbell, a senior analyst with the Real Estate Investment Network, said single-family-home builders in Calgary and Edmonton "know how to play a downturn" better than builders in other cities because they "are used to booms and slowdowns ... so they generally don't overbuild."

"Compared to other regions … they are much more adept at putting their foot on the brake when a market slows down," he said.

"Albertan builders go: 'Oh! I've seen this before. Lay everybody off. Stop building.'"

Condo and apartment builders can't adjust as quickly, Campbell added, as they tend to have longer construction times.

"A house takes six months to build and an apartment building takes a couple years, so the investment still is flowing in to the apartment building, even as the market starts to turn," he said.

Construction rates of condo and apartment buildings can't be adjusted as quickly as single-family-home construction in response to changing market conditions, says Don Campbell of the Real Estate Investment Network. (Canadian Press)

The Canadian Home Builders' Association Calgary Region said it had no one available Monday to comment on the construction numbers.

Total investment in new dwellings of all types in Alberta totalled $641.3 million in June, which is down 30 per cent, year over year.

New residential construction also decreased in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador in June.

Nationwide, investment totalled $4.412 billion, up 8.7 per cent from June 2015.

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