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New-home construction sees continued decline

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New-home construction activity declined for the fourth straight month in the Winnipeg area in March.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) said homebuilders began work on 521 new single- and multi-family units last month in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area (CMS), which includes Winnipeg and 10 neighbouring municipalities.

That was a drop of 6.1 per cent from the 555 starts recorded in April of last year, and followed declines of 19 per cent in January, 10.7 per cent in February and 65.5 per cent in March.

April’s decline was concentrated on the single-family side of the market, where starts were down 30.5 per cent to 189 units from 272 a year earlier. The number of multi-family starts jumped by 17.3 per cent to 332 units from 283.

"While builders picked up production in April following a slow first quarter, softening demand due to lower employment and net migration should keep housing starts below 2013 levels moving forward," said Dianne Himbeault, CMHC’s senior market analyst for Winnipeg.

Himbeault said last month that home-construction activity was expected to be lower this year because of a build-up of unsold houses from 2013. And the unusually cold winter slowed home-buying and home-building activity even more than expected in the first three months of the year.

Nationally, CNHC said the pace of housing starts rose in April, compared with March.

The agency estimated there were 17,124 actual starts in April. Extrapolated over 12 months, that gives a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 194,809 units in April, an increase from 156,592 in March.

— Staff/Canadian Press

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