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Single family home starts up in Toronto, condos down in February: CMHC

One can’t read too much into one or two months’ activity, but perhaps there is hope on the horizon for Toronto buyers looking for those scarce single detached homes. Builders of this type of home had a busy February in Toronto, and in Ontario generally, according to the latest statistics from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The actual number of singles started in Toronto in February (790) was up 8 per cent compared to a year ago; to date this year, the number of new singles is up 21 per cent, compared to the same period last year. Seasonally adjusted, the number is 17,225, the highest level for February in more than ten years.

The other side of the coin was a decline in new condominium starts in Toronto in February. Actual starts dropped a rather sharp 34 per cent, from 2,671 in January to 1,169 in February, giving Toronto a net decline in total starts of 25 per cent. The seasonally adjusted rate for Toronto condos dropped from 37,668 in January to 21,012 in February. To date this year, however, the total number of new starts is up 25 per cent compared to 2016. The year 2016 set a new record for new home sales in the GTA; a total of 47,181 new homes sold that year, of which 38 per cent (17,975 units) were low rise.

Source: CMHC

For the province of Ontario as a whole, the picture is similar for February. Singles starts in February were up 5.7 per cent compared to the previous month, while multiples were down 25 per cent. Nevertheless, housing starts in Ontario have risen by more than 40 per cent since September, according to Scotiabank

Nationally, too, the trend in February was towards more single detached homes, with starts up 12 per cent, and fewer multiples, down 4.7 per cent. The seasonally adjusted number of new housing starts came in at 210,207.

The need for more housing in Toronto can perhaps best be seen in a startling statistic from the resale market. According to Bloomberg, there were just 5,400 properties for sale in Toronto at the end of February, half the number available a year ago. This amounted to one month of inventory, the time it would take to sell all available homes. Four to six months of inventory is considered healthy, giving buyers more choice and reducing the likelihood of bidding wars and overpaying for homes.

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