The construction of single family homes in Greater Victoria continues to lag behind last year's pace, according to data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. But condominium building remains strong, offsetting the decline in new houses.
Multi-family and singlefamily construction is virtually the same year-to-date from 2011. Between January and August of this year, ground was broken on 1,094 homes and multi-family units, down by one from 1,093 for the same months last year.
On a monthly basis, 257 homes were started in the capital region in August, up from 120 in August 2011.
"Multiple-family construction was up compared to last August as 219 multiple-family starts were recorded this August compared to 66 from the same month last year," said Etienne Pinel, CMHC senior market analyst. Of last month's multi-family starts, 193 were in Victoria, followed by 16 in Langford.
Langford led the way in August in single-family starts with 16, followed by Saanich at seven.
So far this year, Victoria has tallied 407 starts, Langford 306, Saanich 104, View Royal 74, and Colwood 72.
The agency's housing market outlook predicts that 1,800 new homes will be started this year and about 1,900 next year in Greater Victoria.
Elsewhere on Vancouver Island, Duncan's housing starts year-to-date are down slightly to 116 from 128 last year. Nanaimo with 493 so far, is also a little behind last year's 498. Parksville has seen starts slide yearto-date to 63 from 123 in 2011, and Courtenay has held steady at 179 compared with 174 last year.
Nationally, the pace of housing starts picked up August, boosted by big multiple-unit projects in Toronto, even as the Canadian real estate market showed signs of cooling.
There were 19,860 actual housing units started in August to set a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 224,900 units for the month, up from 208,000 in July, CMHC said.
The consensus estimate by economists had been for a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 201,000.
"This increase is primarily a reflection of the high level of pre-sales in some of these large multi-unit projects in late 2010 and early 2011, which is in line with job gains at that time," said Mathieu Laberge, deputy chief economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre.
August's seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 47.5 per cent in Atlantic Canada, by 20.4 per cent in Ontario, by 18.2 per cent in British Columbia and by 1.3 per cent in the Prairies, while they dropped by 9.8 per cent in Quebec.
"The higher level of starts recorded in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia in August reflect low levels of activity in July rather than an increasing trend that was registered in August. Overall, moderation in housing starts activity is still expected for the remainder of 2012 and 2013."
TD senior economist Jacques Marcil said the data shows Canadian housing construction remains in high gear and suggested the pace won't continue.
"The rest of the economy is growing much slower and as a consequence is not likely to be able to support this level of housing supply for much longer," Marcil warned.
"While recent changes to mortgage insurance rules will likely limit the growth in demand for new homes, low interest rates remain an incentive for buyers to borrow and keep the housing market overvalued."
The Vancouver board said sales dropped 30.7 per cent in August, while the average price was only 0.5 per cent lower at $609,500.
CMHC said the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 10.2 per cent to 205,900 units in August.
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