Post Category: Research
January 11, 2018
Housing starts come back to earth in December

OPINION: Housing starts declined sharply in the last month of 2017 but still managed to beat consensus expectations (211K). A retracement was always in the cards after the unsustainable figure posted in November (251.7K). A good chunk of the decline in December stemmed from an expected fall in multi-unit starts in Ontario (-34.0K) after the latter reached an all-time high in the previous month. Excluding that category, housing starts countrywide were roughly flat month on month. Looking at quarterly data, starts advanced an annualized 13.5% in the fourth quarter, following a +35.6% print in Q3. Despite that jump, it is hard to know whether or not residential construction contributed to economic growth in Q4. True, quarterly data showed a marked increase in multiple starts (+35.8% annualized), but ground-breakings for single units, whose per-unit contribution to GDP is greater, slumped 28.6% in annualized terms. One thing is for sure: 2017 has truly been a banner year for residential construction in the country, with starts totaling 220.5K, the best figure in ten years. Such a performance is unlikely to be repeated in 2018. Indeed, with the implementation of the new B-20 guidelines for mortgage lending, and considering that the Bank of Canada

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