Commentary on housing start


Housing start for Greater Vancouver

According to Robyn Adamache, CMHC's senior market analyst,
"immigration drives demand in British Columbia and job growth in Vancouver has kept demand for new homes up".

Townhouse420“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.”

Below are the housing data:

  • 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 2011 year-to-date figures show an overall increase in the Lower Mainland of 23 per cent compared to 2010:

  • There was a 21-per-cent decrease in single-family starts,
  • And a 44-per-cent increase in multi-family starts.

The year-to-date housing starts at 13,295 multi-family is lower thatn the peak housing starts of 16,525 in 2007.

HST effect

The drop in single-family starts could be related to the defeated HST which will only be phased out by March 2013.

Multi-family developments are not affected in the same way as it takes at least 2 years to complete, and most of these homes are below the $525,000 threshold for HST.

The hot areas

Richmond and North Vancouver were hot area for growth in 2011, each showing an 89-per-cent increase in housing starts compared to last year. North Vancouver and Richmond's housing starts at 920 and 2,355 represent a hugh jump in housing starts of 486 and 1,248 units respectively.

The vast majority of those housing starts are multi-family developments. According to Adamache, "Richmond is a big recipient of people moving here from other countries, so that could be driving the demand.”

She added that "the significant slowdown in housing starts in 2009, will keep the supply of new condos at a moderate level in the near future, preventing the market from flooded with new supply".

Return to homepage.