Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Construction of new homes still falling in Winnipeg

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

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) said Thursday homebuilders began work on 521 single- and multi-family units last month in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), 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 home-construction activity was expected to be lower this year because of a buildup of unsold homes from 2013. An unusually cold winter also slowed homebuying and homebuilding activity in the first three months of 2014.

In its last forecast released in February, CMHC predicted a six per cent decline in housing starts this year in the Winnipeg CMA and a nine per cent drop for Manitoba.

Nationally, the pace of housing starts rose in April to 17,124 starts from 15,928 in April of last year. Extrapolated over 12 months, that gives a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 194,809 units, up from 156,592 in March.

Statistics Canada also released its latest new-housing price index report on Thursday. It showed the cost of buying a new home crept a little higher -- up 0.1 per cent -- in Winnipeg in March.

The month-over-month increase was part of a trend that saw little or no change in new-home prices in most of the 21 metropolitan areas surveyed. It was the fourth consecutive monthly price hike for Winnipeg. The increase from a year earlier was 2.4 per cent.

Nationally, Canada's index rose by 0.2 per cent for the second straight month.

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 9, 2014 B5

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