Re­ports may her­ald very strong year ahead

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Mike Moore

TWO re­ports from the Canada Mort­gage and Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion this past week gave con­fi­dence and op­ti­mism to the res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion in­dus­try. The first was the Jan­uary start num­bers. Nor­mally, Jan­uary is a slow month af­fected by our usual bit­terly cold weather. Last year, in the Win­nipeg CMA, we had 89 sin­gle-fam­ily de­tached and 64 multi-fam­ily starts for a to­tal of 153 new res­i­dences un­der con­struc­tion. This rep­re­sents a typ­i­cal Jan­uary. How­ever, this past month, there were 114 sin­gle-fam­ily de­tached and 306 multi-fam­ily starts for a to­tal of 420, nearly triple last year’s out­put. Is this a trend for the com­ing year? No. It’s just a one-month snap­shot, and you can’t call a year in one month. How­ever, it does in­di­cate the new-home mar­ket re­mains vi­brant. The 2015 Man­i­toba Hous­ing Out­look Con­fer­ence was pre­sented by CMHC on Feb. 11. The cor­po­ra­tion re­viewed the na­tional, pro­vin­cial and lo­cal eco­nomic out­looks along with trends and pre­dic­tions for all hous­ing mar­kets; new-home, re­sale and rental. This event is one of the in­dus­try high­lights of the year, and a large crowd lis­tened in earnest. Eco­nom­i­cally, Man­i­toba is ex­pected to per­form bet­ter this year than last. The GDP is ex­pected to in­crease by 2.4 per cent; em­ploy­ment will grow as the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor in­creases U.S. trade; and im­mi­gra­tion num­bers are an­tic­i­pated to re­main strong. Although in­ter­provin­cial migration is still neg­a­tive, oil prices may slow the move to Al­berta. New-home starts, both sin­gle-fam­ily de­tached and multi-fam­ily, will im­prove in 2015 from the decline ex­pe­ri­enced last year. Re­sale ac­tiv­ity is also ex­pected to be on the rise this year as av­er­age prices in both mar­kets edge up by a few per­cent­age points. Win­nipeg’s num­bers mir­ror those of the prov­ince as a whole. One very in­ter­est­ing per­spec­tive shared was the largest gains in full-time em­ploy­ment were among the 25- 44-year-old de­mo­graphic. This is key to the hous­ing mar­ket, as this rep­re­sents the largest seg­ment of home­buy­ers, par­tic­u­larly first-time buy­ers. It ap­pears the trend over the past five years of multi-fam­ily starts slightly out­pac­ing sin­gle-fam­ily de­tached will con­tinue. It is in­ter­est­ing to note the bal­anced ra­tio be­tween th­ese two forms of hous­ing is more preva­lent here than in most other large Canadian ur­ban cen­tres where the sin­gle-fam­ily de­tached home is not as avail­able or af­ford­able. Mike Moore is pres­i­dent of the Man­i­toba

Home Builders’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

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