Ottawa homebuilders keep momentum in May

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Despite predictions of a slowdown, Ottawa’s homebuilding industry appears to once again be off to a strong start to the year.

On Monday, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said developers started construction of 507 homes last month. That’s a huge plunge from the 1,595 starts recorded a year earlier, but May 2012 was an anomaly driven by a spike in apartment starts and is the only month with more than 1,000 starts since at least January 2009.

Local homebuilders have started construction of 2,103 homes so far this year, according to CMHC. That’s down from the 3,170 during the same period last year, but roughly at or above the comparable year-to-date figures between 2009 and 2011.

The seasonally adjusted rate also declined, going from 6,239 units in April to 5,943 in May.

“Seasonally adjusted housing starts saw a slight moderation in May from April levels, as apartment construction scaled back,” said Sandra Perez Torres, a CMHC market analyst for the area, in a press release.

“However, some of the decline was offset by a pickup in single-detached and row starts. Construction of single-detached homes recorded the highest activity since April 2012, and rows expanded to the highest level in five months.”

About half of the starts were located in Kanata, the CMHC said in the release.

Nationally, the pace of housing starts picked up in May, led by an increase in multiple-unit starts.

The agency estimated there were 18,301 actual starts last month which would equate to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 200,178 starts.

That's up from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 175,922 in April.

Urban starts on a annual basis increased by 14.6 per cent in May to 177,234 units, led by a 22.2 per cent rise in multiple urban starts.

Single urban starts increased by 3.0 per cent to 62,888 units in May.

May's seasonally adjusted annual rates of urban starts increased in Atlantic Canada and Ontario, were essentially unchanged in the Prairies and decreased in British Columbia and Quebec.

-With a report by The Canadian Press