Ottawa-Gatineau housing starts soar 64 per cent in June

Days after the Ottawa Real Estate Board pointed to an “overall inventory shortage” in the city’s resale market, a report suggests homebuilders are working overtime to meet pent-up demand for new housing in the region.

Developers in Ottawa-Gatineau started work on 1,179 new homes in June, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Tuesday. That’s up a whopping 64 per cent from the 719 starts recorded a year earlier.

Homebuilders on both sides of the river enjoyed a significant bump in activity. Housing starts jumped 49 per cent to 950 in Ottawa and skyrocketed 183 per cent in Gatineau, where developers got to work on 229 new units.

Multiple-unit dwellings drove much of the increase in construction, particularly in Ottawa, where unit starts of that type nearly doubled year-over-year to 608.

It’s a continuation of an upward trend in new home construction that began in 2017. Local developers launched 7,457 housing starts last year, an increase of 41 per cent over 2016 and the highest number since at least 2004, according to CMHC records.

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 12,657 annualized housing starts.

Nationally, homebuilders started work on 18,326 units in June, a bump of 17 per cent from 15,690 a year earlier.

The national six-month rolling trend in housing starts hit 222,041 units in June, up from 216,701 in May, CMHC said.

“The national trend in housing starts increased in June, reflecting a jump in the (seasonally adjusted annual rates) of multi-unit dwellings in urban centres in June to a historical high,” Bob Dugan, the agency’s chief economist, said in a statement. “Notably, the national inventory of newly completed and unabsorbed multi-unit dwellings has remained below its 10-year historical average so far in 2018, indicating that demand for this type of unit has absorbed increased supply.”

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