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Fewer multi-family starts behind new-home construction slump

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New-home construction activity slowed last month in the Winnipeg area, led by a substantial drop in the number of multi-family starts.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said today homebuilders started 306 new housing units in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), which includes Winnipeg and 10 surrounding municipalities.

That was a 36.1 per cent decline from the 479 starts recorded in October 2011.

The slowdown was concentrated on the volatile multi-family side of the market, where starts plummeted to 131 units from 301 a year earlier. Single-detached starts were down by only three units — 175 versus 178.

"Despite the moderation in October, the trend for new home construction in Winnipeg remains elevated," said Dianne Himbeault, CMHC’s senior market analyst for Winnipeg. "Housing starts in 2012 have been supported by continued employment and population growth."

The pace of housing starts also slowed at the national level. CMHC said there were 17,507 actual starts recorded in Canada in October. That translates into a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 204,107 starts, down from an annual rate of 223,995 recorded in September.

The agency says the decline was mostly due to a decrease in both single and multi starts in urban centres in Quebec and the Prairies.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

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