Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Housing starts slide to kick off a new year

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The new year got off to a slow start for local homebuilders, with the number of new starts down 19 per cent in January, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) said Monday.

The corporation said there were 153 new housing starts recorded last month in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), which includes Winnipeg and 10 neighbouring municipalities.

That was a decline of 19 per cent from the 189 starts recorded in January of last year.

"The trend in total housing starts moderated for a second consecutive month in January as both single-detached and multi-family construction declined," said Dianne Himbeault, CMHC's senior market analyst for Winnipeg. "The decrease was more pronounced in the multi-family sector, where starts continued to ease from the elevated levels set in 2013."

CMHC said the number of multi-family starts fell by 22 per cent to 64 units from 82 in January of last year. Single starts were off by 16.8 per cent to 89 from 107.

CMHC has said it expects to see a slowdown in new-home construction activity this year in both Manitoba and the Winnipeg CMA.

In its first-quarter forecast released late last week, the corporation said the number of housing starts in Manitoba's major urban areas is expected to decline by 8.9 per cent to 6,800 units from 7,465 in 2013. For the Winnipeg CMA, it's forecasting a six per cent decline -- 4,425 units versus 4,705.

It predicted a combination of fewer immigrant arrivals, more moderate employment and income growth and a growing inventory of unsold homes will prompt local builders to scale back their construction activity this year.

The pace of housing starts also slowed at the national level in January compared with December, CMHC said Monday. It estimated there were 11,737 actual starts during the month and that is extrapolated out to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 180,248. That's down from 187,144 in December.

 

-- Staff/Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 11, 2014 B6

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