New Brunswick

Tight New Brunswick housing markets trigger record construction 

New Brunswick housing markets are as tight as they've ever been, but new figures show record numbers of housing units are under construction and more building is planned for this spring.

Building permits issued in 2022 running ahead of last year's $1-billion total 

The Wellington is a mixed-income apartment building under construction in Saint John. Its 47 apartments are among more than 4,000 housing units currently under construction in New Brunswick. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

New Brunswick housing markets are as tight as they've ever been, but new figures show record numbers of housing units are under construction and more building is planned for this spring.

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, New Brunswick had a record 5,196 new housing units at various stages of construction during the first three months of 2022, including 1,001 that were completed during the period.

That includes houses, townhouses, condominiums and apartments.

It's the largest number of new housing units just completed or in development in the first few months of a year since at least 2002. It's also 48 per cent more than the 3,513 units that were completed or in the construction pipeline just one year earlier.

That's not an immediate help to couples like Stefanie Bouchard and Kaylee Hopkins, who last month told CBC's Information Morning of their year-long effort to buy a home in the Fredericton area.

"We've kind of become numb to the rejection," Bouchard said of the failed offers she and Hopkins have made on 12 homes since early 2021.

But it does at least hint at more housing supply becoming available in the coming weeks. 

Stefanie Bouchard and her partner have been trying to buy their first home in the Fredericton area for over a year. (Submitted by Stefanie Bouchard)

Fewest active listings in two decades

In March, the Real Estate Board of the Fredericton Area reported only 285 active listings in an area that stretches from Oromocto, 23 kilometres southeast of the capital, to Woodstock, about 200 kilometres to the west. This was the lowest number in two decades. 

But real estate agent Rebecca Steeves estimated up to 80 per cent of those already had accepted offers on them, meaning fewer than 60 of the listed houses were fully available for sale.

"We don't have listings," Steeves said. 

"Supply has been decreasing because builders haven't been building and buyers have been coming, so we have a supply shortage."

It's that supply shortage builders in the province are working to meet.

Records show much of the construction activity in New Brunswick has suddenly tilted toward building housing in the last two years.

Rebecca Steeves of RE/Max East Coast Elite Realty Inc. says there is still strong demand for housing in the Fredericton area but a 'supply shortage' of houses has made finding a home difficult for many. (Submitted by Rebecca Steeves)

Surge in residential building permits

There were  $1.02 billion in residential building permits issued in communities around the province in 2021.

That's more than double the value of permits issued for commercial and industrial projects combined, and $431 million more than were issued in 2019, the year before the COVID-19  pandemic.

According to Statistics Canada, residential building permits in 2022 are already outpacing last year's, with $146.5 million issued in the normally slow months of January, February and March.   

Just over one third of those 2022 permits have been issued in communities in and around Moncton ($36.8 million) and Saint John ($24.5 million), with the remainder ($85.2 million) spread out around the province.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robert Jones

Reporter

Robert Jones has been a reporter and producer with CBC New Brunswick since 1990. His investigative reports on petroleum pricing in New Brunswick won several regional and national awards and led to the adoption of price regulation in 2006.

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