Housing starts on track with last year’s numbers
THE numbers are in for the first three months of the year and, if one looks deeper into the mix, we see that new home starts are right where they should be, with the promise of continued growth. First-quarter starts for single-family detached homes are exactly even with last year. Last year was a good year, albeit a decline from the previous two years, which were beyond anticipation. Therefore, on one hand, starts can be considered flat or even with last year. On the other hand, being even with last year means we are on track for the fourth-best year in terms of new home starts over the past 27 years. The numbers become skewed when we consider the multi-family starts. Winnipeg had an unusually high number of multi-family starts in January. This will even out over time and all indications are the multi-family number will finish relatively close to the forecast by year end. Based on absolutely no science other than what I personally saw and heard during the Spring Parade of Homes, I agree the multi-family numbers will be bang on what was anticipated. However, there appears to be a growth spurt in single-family detached homes occurring right now. It might be due to the early spring weather we have been receiving, but the sales and leads emanating from this year’s Parade are far outdistancing last year’s. Let’s hope that shows in increased start numbers as the year goes on. With the drop in oil prices, expect fewer Manitobans to be moving to Alberta this year. In the past, we have experienced significant negative net migration, especially to Alberta, but also recently to Saskatchewan. Both manufacturing and agriculture will benefit from the lower Canadian dollar, hopefully resulting in spending confidence on the part of consumers. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association recently conducted their annual general meeting and conference in Halifax. Part of the program includes an annual awards ceremony. Manitoba was prominent in these awards. Derek Thorsteinson of Parkhill Homes was named CHBA builder member of the year. This prestigious honour was in recognition of Thorsteinson’s tireless efforts and leadership shown at the local and national level in technical matters such as building, fire and energy codes. Also recognized with awards of honour were Glenda Sobie of Ventura Homes and Laurie Finley of the Winnipeg Free Press for their contributions to the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association and the residential construction industry.
Mike Moore is president of the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association