More than 1,000 housing units were started last month in Calgary, including a large jump in multifamily units, as the economy starts to pick up.
“The activity in the housing market is certainly reflecting some of the positive growth we’re seeing in the economy,” said Richard Cho, a senior market analyst at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., citing an in-crease in full-time jobs, especially in the 25-to-44 demographic that often includes first-time homebuyers, and lower unemployment.
In March, according to CMHC data, there were 1,069 housing starts in the city, including 639 multi-family.
ATB economist Will Van’t Veld, pointing out that multifamily starts in March 2011 were at 126, agreed it’s a sign of confidence in the economy.
“The number for multis have been really suppressed for a while,” he added.
Cho said the boost in multifamily starts can be attributed to new apartment buildings, adding that the inventory has been dropping.
Overall, the Canadian housing market grew faster than expected in March, led by a surge in construction of multiple units that have contributed to concern about possible over building in the Toronto condo market.
CMHC said housing starts across the country rose to 215,600 units on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis in March, up from 205,300 units in February.
In Alberta, the starts were 35,500 in March on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, 14,600 higher a year ago. Van’t Veld said the increase is greater than in Ontario, where the seasonally adjusted starts were up 13,300 at 87,500.
Heavy investment in condos in Ontario has been a concern to some, and the CMHC called the pace of multi-family starts “exceptional, and not expected to be sustained.”
Van’t Veld said at this point the Alberta market wouldn’t be considered overheated, as it was during the boom, because the anticipated wave of people moving to the province for work should put those homes in demand. He added that the annualized rate in the province is still below numbers reached at the height of the boom, when it would top 50,000.
But he also pointed out that Alberta housing start statistics are “notoriously volatile” because a strong building sector adds fuel to labour market shortages already hit by a strengthening energy sector.
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