Construction pace on the rise
Multi-family increase halts downturn
May marked the first month in 2013 where construction starts of multi-family housing were higher than the same time last year, says a federal agency.
After four straight months where multi-family housing starts were on the downturn compared to the same month a year earlier, new construction climbed 11 per cent in May in the Calgary area, says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
There were 519 starts last month in the Calgary census metropolitan area, up from 466 during the same period last year. The area includes activity in surrounding towns and cities such as Airdrie, Cochrane and Chestermere.
“The trend of total housing starts increased slightly in May due to strong construction in both the single-detached and multi-family markets,” says senior market analyst Richard Cho of CMHC.
Total housing starts were 1,078 in May, up 13 per cent from 949 during the same month last year.
But total multi-family housing construction from Jan. 1 to the end of May declined 68 per cent to 2,119 units, down from 3,561.
By comparison, construction starts of multi-family homes in the Edmonton area outpaced Calgary by 89 per cent, with 4,005 units on the go from Jan. 1 to the end of May.
The lagging total production of multi-family development in the Calgary area this year is due to an overall decrease apartment construction, says Cho.
“Building permits towards the end of last year and into the beginning of 2013 somewhat indicated that we were going to see a lower level of multi-family starts, which we have seen so far,” he says. “For the year, we are expecting to see a decline in multi-family construction, mainly due to fewer apartments.”
But last month, the increase in total multi-family housing starts was carried by a 33 per cent upturn in apartment construction.
There were 323 starts for condo apartments last month, up from 242 in May 2012.
“For most of the year, (duplexes) and (townhomes) have been generally up year-overyear and it’s been the apartment component that has been pulling the total multi-family number down” says Cho. “But in May, we had the apartment increase, which helped the number finish higher than last year.”
Along with apartments, construction activity on duplexes was also higher last month compared to 2012. There were 106 starts in May, up 32 per cent from 80 starts during the same month last year.
Townhomes saw the only decline, with 90 starts last month, down 58 per cent from 143 a year earlier.
Construction starts of multi-family housing rose to 519 last month, up 11 per cent from May 2012. RICHARD CHO, CMHC
Richard Cho, senior market analyst for CMHC.