Local homebuilders slammed on the brakes in May, starting work on only a handful of new multi-family units and driving down total starts by nearly 60 per cent.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said today that only 288 new housing starts were recorded last month in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), which includes Winnipeg and 10 neighbouring municipalities. That was a 58 per cent decline from the 685 units that were started in May 2012.
All of the drop-off in activity was on the multi-family side of the market, where the number of starts plunged to just 28 units from 430 a year earlier. The number of single-family starts increased by two per cent to 260 units from 255.
Despite the big year-over-year drop, housing starts for the year were still trending only modestly lower in May than in April — 4,077 units versus 4,195, CMHC said. The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of total housing starts.
Dianne Himbeault, CMHC’s senior market analyst for Winnipeg, blamed the moderation in the trending rate on the decline in multi-family starts last month.
"While multi-family starts moved lower in May, the pace of the single-detached construction has been trending higher since March of this year," she said.
Nationally, CMHC said the pace of housing starts picked up in May, led by an increase in multiple-unit starts.
The agency estimated there were 18,301 actual starts last month which would equate to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 200,178 starts.
That’s up from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 175,922 in April.
— with files by Canadian Press