Where are the most new homes in BC being built?

Multi-family housing starts were up in Greater Vancouver in November over last year, while single family starts were down, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported Thursday.

“We have seen a reduction in single-family housing starts so far this year, and sort of a resurgence in the multi-family sector,” said Robyn Adamache, CMHC’s senior market analyst. “We’re starting to see some of the larger condo projects starting again, but we’re nowhere near the levels we were in our peak year, 2007.”

Nationally, housing starts declined to 16,615 from 17,637, with B.C. one of only two regions showing an overall increase from 1,609 to 2,241. Urban Quebec also showed a small increase.

Adamache said immigration drives demand in British Columbia and job growth in Vancouver has kept demand for new homes up.

“I think part of what’s going on is we do have a fairly balanced resale housing marking out there, so there is fairly steady demand,” Adamache said. “Part of what’s driving this is ongoing population growth, or people moving here from other countries. In Vancouver, we get 35,000 or 40,000 people moving here every year.”

There were 1,686 housing starts in November in the Vancouver CMA, up from 918 in November 2010. Single-family starts were at 281 for November, down 10 per cent from 2010. Multi-family starts, which include semi-detached, townhouses and apartments, were at 1,405 for November, up a whopping 130 per cent from November 2010.

The year-to-date figures show an overall increase in the Lower Mainland of 23 per cent for 2011 so far over 2010; broken down, there was a 21-per-cent decrease in single-family starts, and a 44-per-cent increase in multi-family starts. This year-to-date shows a total of 13,295 multi-family housing starts, compared to 16,525 in 2007 when housing starts peaked.

The drop in single-family starts could be related to the referendum defeat of the harmonized sales tax, which applies to new homes and which the provincial government said will be phased out by March 2013. Multi-family developments would not be affected in the same way because of the time it takes to build them and because many condos and townhouses would be below the $525,000 threshold for HST.

Richmond and North Vancouver were hot spots for growth, each showing an 89-per-cent increase in housing starts for year-to-date over last year. North Vancouver had 920 housing starts this year so far compared to 486 at this point last year, while Richmond had 2,355 starts compared to 1,248 at the same point last year. The vast majority of those units were multi-family developments.

“Richmond is a big recipient of people moving here from other countries, so that could be driving the demand,” Adamache said.

Because there was a significant slowdown in housing starts in 2009, and because it takes at least two years to complete a multi-family development, there will not be a lot of completed condos flooding the market in the near future, Adamache said.

Source: Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun

Leave a Reply

Real Estate Blogs