Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New-home starts saw Oct. slowdown

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Local homebuilders eased up on the gas last month as they begin to put the finishing touches on what has been a banner year for new-home construction in Manitoba.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said Thursday local builders 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.

But the slowdown was concentrated almost entirely in the often-volatile multi-family side of the market, where starts plummeted by 56.5 per cent to 131 units from 301 a year earlier. Single-family starts, by comparison, were down by only three units, to 175 units from 178.

Dianne Himbeault, CMHC's senior market analyst for Manitoba, said the pace of multi-family starts can fluctuate from one month to the next, depending on the number of units in projects that are started during the month.

"Despite the moderation in October, the trend for new-home construction in Winnipeg remains elevated," she said. "Housing starts in 2012 have been supported by continued employment and population growth."

In its latest quarterly forecast released earlier this week, CMHC said Manitoba's homebuilding industry is on pace to finish the year with 7,500 single and multi-family starts. That would be a 23.3 per cent increase from 2011's total of 6,083, and 2011 was one of the industry's best since the late 1980s for new-home construction activity both provincially and in the Winnipeg CMA.

The corporation also said the Winnipeg CMA is on track for 4,050 starts this year, which would be a 21.6 per cent improvement over 2011's total of 3,331. After the first 10 months, starts were running 29.7 per cent ahead of last year's pace after the same period -- 3,569 units versus 2,751.

Canada also saw the pace of housing starts slow in October. CMHC said there were 17,507 actual starts recorded in the country, which translates into a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 204,107 starts. That's down from an annual rate of 223,995 in September.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2012 B6

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