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Housing starts last month surge past January 2011 numbers

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WINNIPEG — Local homebuilders roared out of the starting gate in 2012, banging out nearly three times as many housing starts in January as in the first month of 2011.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) said today there were 348 single- and multi-family starts recorded last month in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area, which includes Winnipeg and 10 neighbouring municipalities.

That was nearly triple the 122 recorded in January of last year, with both sides of the new-homes market contributing to the surge. CMHC said single-family starts jumped by 18.3 per cent to 136 units from 115 a year earlier, while the number of multi-family starts soared to 212 units from a mere seven.

"This represents the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year increases (in single-family starts)," said Dianne Himbeault, CMHC’s senior market analyst for Manitoba. "The favourable weather has allowed single-detached builders to maintain their momentum into 2012."

Himbeault said multi-family housing is also maintaining its momentum in the new year, with demand coming from Winnipeggers looking for rental housing and first-time buyers and empty-nesters looking for condominiums.

Nationally, it was a much different picture last month, with the pace of Canadian housing starts slowing slightly, mainly because of sharp decreases in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

CMHC said the seasonally adjusted annual start rate of starts for Canada was 197,900 units, down from 199,900 units in December.

The seasonally adjusted figure attempts to smooth out monthly variations and calculates an annual total as if the January rate continued for 12 months. The actual number of units begun in January was 12,950.

— with files by Canadian Press

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

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