Ottawa-Gatineau housing starts drop sharply in July

housing starts

Housing starts in Ottawa-Gatineau dropped off in July, mirroring a national downturn following near-record highs in new home construction across the country the previous month, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

Builders in the region broke ground on 853 new dwellings last month, CMHC said, a 34 per cent decline from the 1,291 starts recorded a year earlier.

Construction of new units was down significantly on both sides of the provincial border on a year-over-year basis. Homebuilders in Ottawa launched 568 starts in July, a drop of 29 cent from 2017, while developers in Gatineau began 285 new units, 42 per cent fewer than the 489 starts recorded the previous July.

A hefty jump in the construction of single-detached homes in Ottawa ​– where the number of starts rose 41 per cent year-over-year to 301 – was more than offset by a steep decline in multi-unit starts. Ottawa builders initiated work on 267 such units in July, down 55 per cent from the same month in 2017.  

In addition to reporting actual housing starts, CMHC also calculates a seasonally adjusted six-month rolling annualized average to show trends in new home construction. Using that measurement, the trend in Ottawa-Gatineau last month was 9,533 annualized housing starts.

Across the country, homebuilders started work on 16,741 homes in July, 12 per cent fewer than the 18,974 new units launched a year earlier.

The national six-month rolling trend in housing starts was 206,314 units last month, down from 246,200 in June, CMHC said.

“The national trend in housing starts decreased in July, reflecting a decline in the (seasonally adjusted annual rates) of multi-unit dwellings in urban centres from the near-historical high registered in June,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist. “Despite decreasing in July, the trend remains well above historical averages, reflecting elevated levels of multi-unit starts in most major markets that has more-than-offset declining single starts.”