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Canada records 14% housing boom

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A wave of condo building pushed Canadian housing starts up 14 per cent in April, figures have revealed

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) said the seasonally adjusted annualised rate of housing starts was 244,900 units last month.

Urban multiple starts – which include condominiums and apartments – soared by 27 per cent to 158,500 units.

Mathieu Laberge, deputy chief economist at CMHC’s market analysis centre, said: ‘The increase in this segment is partly a reflection of the high level of pre-sales in large multi-unit projects since 2011, which is in line with job gains over the last year.’

Québec province saw a 57 per cent rise in seasonally adjusted urban starts, while Ontario recorded a 12 per cent hike. There was a 6 per cent increase in the Prairies and British Columbia, and a 2.6 per cent rise in Atlantic Canada.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 18,700 units in April.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Real Estate Association’s MLS Home Price Index was 5.1 per cent higher in March 2012 than in the same month a year earlier.

This mirrored February’s year-on-year rise, which was the smallest for eight months.

The longer-term prospects for the property market appear sound

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said in a market update last week: ‘Canadian housing starts stepped up a gear in March, as Canada’s condo building frenzy continued apace.

‘Taking the three-month moving average to strip out the inherent volatility in construction data, housing starts have risen 17 per cent over the past 12 months.’

It warned that high rates of condo building were ‘bound to feed into worries about possible overbuild in key metro areas such as Toronto and Vancouver’.

Stuart Rough, chairman of London-headquartered practice Broadway Malyan, told AJ in April that Canada was a good long-term market for architects.

‘Because Canada hasn’t been subject to the cheap lending that has fuelled the housing and credit boom in other countries – and the government has maintained greater control over its banks, resulting in a relatively stable economy – the longer-term prospects for the property market appear sound.’

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