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Housing starts humming along in Ontario

While parts of Canada deal with challenging local economies and real estate markets, housing starts – an important indicator of economic health – continue to hum along in Ontario.

Housing starts in the Ontario region were trending at 75,325 units in January, up from 73,786 units in December, according to data from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).

“The Ontario residential construction trend continued to move higher,” says Ted Tsiakopoulos, CMHC’s Ontario regional economist. “All housing types posted increases in the latest month.”

The Ontario starts trend has been running above levels supported by household formation rates through the second half of 2015. This points to a moderation in activity from recent levels.

“Modest job growth, lower levels of in-migration in recent years and a declining backlog of condominium sales awaiting construction should result in lower levels of starts as we move through 2016,” says Tsiakopoulos.

In Toronto, Canada’s largest market, housing starts also trended higher in January – 45,114 units, compared to 44,834 in December 2015.

“Last year’s momentum continued throughout January,” says Dana Senagama, CMHC principal market analyst for the GTA. “Low inventory in the resale market and increased new home sales over the past couple of years led to stronger starts of both low- and highrise units.”

The standalone monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts was 25,329 units in January, up from 24,732 units in December. The increase was the result of greater apartment starts, CMHC says.

Construction of 725 new condo apartment units within the city of Toronto meant it recorded the highest number of starts within the GTA. Brampton recorded the next highest, comprising mostly single-detached and townhouse units. This was followed by Milton, where condo apartment construction was robust.

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