Canadian Housing Starts (August 2020)

BC Construction StartsCanadian housing starts increased by 7% m/m to 262,396 units in August at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR). This represents the fourth consecutive monthly increase and the fastest pace of national homebuilding since 2007, pushing up the six-month average to 213,144 units SAAR. August's increase was driven primarily by the multi-units segment in Ontario, marking the province's strongest pace of homebuilding since 1990.

In BC, housing starts increased by 6% m/m to 44,883 units SAAR in August, following an increase of 42,883 in July. The increase was primarily driven by the multi-unit segment. Housing starts in August were above the pre-COVID level. In the near term, we can expect housing activity to continue to be supported by sales that occurred prior to the pandemic and historically low borrowing rates. Meanwhile, the value of residential building permits was down sharply in July by 34%. Compared to the same time last year, housing starts were up by 23%.

Looking at census metropolitan areas in BC:

Housing starts in Vancouver were up by 22% m/m to 29,754 units SAAR in August. Both multi-units (25%) and singles (1%) were up. Compared to last year, housing starts were up by 50%, marking the first notable year-over-year increase in 2020.

In Victoria, housing starts were down by 34% m/m to 2,732 units SAAR. Compared to a year ago in August, housing starts were up by 64%.

In Kelowna, housing starts decreased by 24% m/m to 2,629 unit SAAR. Starts were down by 55% in the region compared to the same time last year.

Monthly housing starts in Abbotsford-Mission were up by 195% at 1,431 units SAAR. Compared to the same time last year, new home construction was up by 27%.