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Canadian house building plunges into decline

Canadian housing starts plummeted in January, official data has revealed

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation calculated a seasonally adjusted annualised rate of 160,577 units in the first month of 2013.

This was down significantly from 197,118 units in December, and 196,125 in November.

It is the first time in two years the index has recorded below 175,000 units.

The rate of urban starts decreased by 22 per cent in January to 138,134 units. This was led by a 29 per cent drop in multiple urban starts.

Ontario saw a 44 per cent fall in the rate of urban starts, while Quebec’s rate dropped 30 per cent and the Prairies’ by 6 per cent.

Urban starts were up 59 per cent in Atlantic Canada and 8 per cent in British Columbia.

The rate of rural starts was up slightly, although these account for a far smaller number.

The ‘trend’, a six-month average of seasonally adjusted annual rates, was also down.

‘The trend in total housing starts has been moderating since September 2012 and in existing home sales since May 2012,’ said CMHC deputy chief economist Mathieu Laberge.

‘Trends in the two market segments typically follow a similar pattern, with the new home market lagging behind the existing home market by a few months.

‘The current trend is also in line with CMHC’s housing market outlook, which calls for moderation in housing starts activity in 2013.’

A slow in housing starts in early 2013 was predicted by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors last autumn.

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