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Housing Starts Decrease in February

OTTAWA, Ontario, March 09, 2009 — The seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of housing starts declined to 134,600 units in February from 153,500 units in January, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

“Increased listings and reduced sales in the existing home market continue to impact the new home market,” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre. “The decrease in February housing starts is partly attributable to the volatile multiple starts segment. In any given month and given its relative importance, the volatility of the multiple starts segment can exaggerate monthly movements up or down in the rate of housing starts.”

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts decreased 14.9 per cent to 107,800 units in February. Urban multiple starts decreased 17.5 per cent to 63,300 units, while urban single starts fell 11 per cent to 44,500 units in February.

February’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts moderated in all of Canada’s regions except Atlantic Canada, where urban starts increased by 10.8 per cent. Urban starts fell by 19.6 per cent in Quebec, 14.4 per cent in Ontario, 19.4 per cent in the Prairies, and 12.8 per cent in British Columbia.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 26,800 units in February2.

New home construction is slowing to more sustainable levels and starts are forecast to come in at 160,250 units, within a range of 141,000 to 180,000 units in 2009. These trends are reflected in the year-to-date actual starts. These decreases, however, should be viewed in the context that housing starts have been exceptionally strong over the past 7 years, exceeding 200,000 units per year.

As Canada’s national housing agency, CMHC draws on more than 60 years of experience to help Canadians access a variety of quality, environmentally sustainable, and affordable homes — homes that will continue to create vibrant and healthy communities and cities across the country.

For more information, call 1-800-668-2642.

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.

2 CMHC estimates the level of rural starts for each of the three months of the quarter, at the beginning of each quarter. During the last month of the quarter, CMHC conducts the survey in rural areas and revises the estimate.

Information on this release:
Kristen Scheel
CMHC Media Relations
Tel.: 613-748-2799
Cell: 613-316-2949
Stéphanie Bento
CMHC Media Relations
Tel.: 613-748-2811
Cell.: 613-808-9670
For regional starts information contact:

Atlantic provinces:
Alex MacDonald

Ted Tsiakopoulos

British Columbia:
Carol Frketich

Kevin Hughes

Prairie provinces:
Richard Corriveau

Housing Starts in Canada - All Areas*

Housing Starts, Actual and SAAR*
Actual SAAR
Final Preliminary Final Preliminary
Canada, all areas 14,268 6,598 153,500 134,600
Canada, rural areas 737 1,004 26,800 26,800
Canada, urban centres** 13,531 5,594 126,700 107,800
Canada, singles, urban centres 4,339 2,019 50,000 44,500
Canada, multiples, urban centres 9,192 3,575 76,700 63,300
Atlantic region, urban centres 255 262 7,400 8,200
Quebec, urban centres 2,794 1,438 36,200 29,100
Ontario, urban centres 4,399 2,206 51,500 44,100
Prairie region, urban centres 2,464 831 17,500 14,100
British Columbia, urban centres 3,619 857 14,100 12,300