BC housing starts rise 12.2% in February, 14% over last year

Wednesday, March 9th, 2005

Michael McCullough

B.C. housing starts rose 12.2 per cent from January to February, and 14 per cent over February 2004, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported Tuesday.

Construction began on 2,016 housing units across the province last month, up from 1,909 in January.

“Last month’s sunny skies allowed homebuilders to make up for ground lost during January’s inclement weather,” said CMHC senior market analyst Cameron Muir.

The rebound, which was felt in all provinces except Quebec, returns home-building activity to levels consistent with CMHC’s forecast for the year, the federal agency said. Across Canada, there were 11,907 housing starts in February, up 5.3 per cent from January.

CMHC has forecast B.C. will be the only province to see an increase in housing starts this year. There were 32,925 starts in 2004.

“We’re not too far off last year’s pace,” said CMHC regional economist Carol Frketich, who expects activity to pick up more in the spring.

She said the market fundamentals in B.C., such as low interest rates and strong income growth of 4.4 per cent last year — ahead of the national average — support further home building.

In a market report, she noted B.C. was far and away the most active real estate market in Canada last year, with 23 home sales per 1,000 population. Next up was Alberta, with 18 sales per 1,000 residents.

The 1,210 housing starts in Greater Vancouver represented a 15-per-cent increase over the same month a year earlier. But while multi-family units increased 36 per cent, detached starts declined 16 per cent. CMHC forecasts starts will top 20,000 in Vancouver this year.

© The Vancouver Sun 2005

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