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Starts Edge Higher in March

OTTAWA, Ontario, April 8, 2005 — The seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of housing starts was 218,500 in March, up 0.3 per cent from 217,800 in February, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

"The high level of starts in March indicates that demand for new housing remains strong, supported by low mortgage rates and high levels of employment," said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre. "Housing starts were lower than they were a year earlier, suggesting that activity in the housing market is slowing from its peak level set in 2004."

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts rose 0.4 per cent to 190,100 units in March. An increase in multiples starts was partially offset by a decline in singles. Multiple starts climbed 2.2 per cent in March to 97,000 while single starts declined 1.5 per cent to 93,100 on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

In March, new construction activity was strongest in Western Canada. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts in British Columbia and the Prairies rose 11.3 per cent and 9.7 per cent, respectively. Housing starts decreased in March compared to last month in the Atlantic region (10.6 per cent), in Quebec (8.7), and in Ontario (2.2 per cent).

Rural starts in March were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 28,400 units.

For the first three months of 2005, actual urban starts were 5.9 per cent lower than in the same period of 2004. Year to date single starts fell 9.4 per cent, and multiple starts eased 2.6 per cent.

1. All starts figures in this release, other than actual starts, are seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) — that is, monthly figures adjusted to remove normal seasonal variation and multiplied by 12 to reflect annual levels.

Information on this release:

Bob Dugan
CMHC
(613) 748-4009
bdugan@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

For regional starts information contact:

Atlantic provinces:
Alex MacDonald
CMHC
(902) 426-8964
amacdona@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Quebec:
Kevin Hughes
CMHC
(514) 283-4488
khughes@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Ontario:
Ted Tsiakopoulos
CMHC
(416) 218-3407
ttsiakop@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Prairie provinces:
Vinay Bhardwaj
CMHC
(403) 515-3004
vbhardwa@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

British Columbia:
Carol Frketich
CMHC
(604) 737-4067
cfrketic@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Housing Starts in Canada — All Areas*

Housing Starts, Actual and SAAR*

February 2005
Final

March 2005
Preliminary

Actual SAAR Actual SAAR
Canada, all areas 12,014 217,800 14,203 218,500
Canada, rural areas 1,110 28,400 1,436 28,400
Canada, urban centres** 10,904 189,400 12,767 190,100
Canada, singles, urban centres 4,983 94,500 5,932 93,100
Canada, multiples, urban centres 5,921 94,900 6,835 97,000
Atlantic region, urban centres 222 8,500 206 7,600
Quebec, urban centres 2,379 42,700 2,582 39,000
Ontario, urban centres 3,878 72,000 4,758 70,400
Prairie region, urban centres 2,461 37,100 2,816 40,700
British Columbia, urban centres 1,964 29,100 2,405 32,400

Source: CMHC

*Seasonally adjusted annual rates
** Urban centres with a population of 10,000 persons and over.
Detailed data available upon request.