OTTAWA — Housing starts were up more than expected in March, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Wednesday. The federal agency said the annual rate of new construction on housing units was 215,600 last month, up 10,300, or five per cent, from the month before. That beat the median estimate of 200,000 from economists polled by Bloomberg.
“The upward movement in March was largely due to an increase in multiple starts, particularly in Ontario and the Prairies,” CMHC deputy chief economist Mathieu Laberge said in a statement. “This was partly offset by a decrease in multiple starts in British Columbia and Quebec, while single-detached starts decreased marginally countrywide.”
In urban areas, housing starts were up 4.2 per cent to a rate of 192,100. That included a decline of 2.4 per cent in the category of single-family homes, but a gain of 8.3 per cent for multiple-housing units. In rural areas, housing starts were estimated at an annual rate of 23,500, up 11.9 per cent from February. “Although we expect starts to soften in due course, the latest figures suggests that, for time being, the housing sector still has a considerable amount of energy, aided by low financing costs,” said Peter Buchanan, economist with CIBC World Markets.