May 2011 Housing Starts

OTTAWA, June 8, 2011 — The seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of housing starts was 183,600 units in May, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This is up from 178,700 units in April 2011.

“Housing starts increased modestly in May due to an increase in multiple construction in most provinces and in rural starts,” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre. “The increase in multiples and rural starts was partly off-set by a decrease in single starts.”

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 0.8 per cent to 161,000 units in May. Urban multiple starts were up by 4.0 per cent in May to 100,000 units, while single urban starts decreased by 4.1 per cent to 61,000 units.

May’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 33.3 per cent in British Columbia, by 13.5 per cent in Québec, by 11.0 per cent in the Atlantic region, and by 10.0 per cent in the Prairie region. Ontario posted a decrease of 22.9 per cent over the same period.

Rural starts2 were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 22,600 units in May.

As Canada's national housing agency, CMHC draws on more than 65 years of experience to help Canadians access a variety of high quality, environmentally sustainable and affordable housing solutions. CMHC also provides reliable, impartial and up-to-date housing market reports, analysis and knowledge to support and assist consumers and the housing industry in making informed decisions.

1 All starts figures in this release, other than actual starts, are seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) — that is, monthly figures adjusted to remove normal seasonal variation and multiplied by 12 to reflect annual levels. By removing seasonal ups and downs, seasonal adjustment makes it possible to highlight the fundamental trends of a series. Reporting monthly figures at annual rates indicates the annual level of starts that would be obtained if the monthly pace was maintained for 12 months. This facilitates comparison of the current pace of activity to annual forecasts as well as to historical annual levels.

2 CMHC estimates the level of starts in centres with a population of less than 10,000 for each of the three months of the quarter, at the beginning of each quarter. During the last month of the quarter, CMHC conducts the survey in these centres and revises the estimate.

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