Canadian housing starts underwhelmed in 2023

What happened to the Canadian housing market in 2023? Here are a snapshot of why the market had an underwhelming end to the year

Steep declines in multifamily housing starts contributed to a disappointing finish for the 2023 Canadian housing market.

According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, November housing starts for all areas declined by 22% from last month. Starts were logged at an annualized rate of 212,624 units, down from 272,264 in October, a 19% drop from the same period in 2022.

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In this comprehensive market analysis, we break down some of the key factors contributing to the weakened Canadian housing market.

Urban starts decline

Urban starts dropped 23% to 195,363 units. Multi-unit urban starts slumped 27% to 151,297 units, and single-detached urban starts decreased 7% to 44,066 units. Housing start declines were steepest in Vancouver and Toronto, which sagged 39% each.

New November lows

November housing starts were the second weakest mark of the year after reaching a low of 201,221 last May. The high mark in 2023 was 284,744 in June. However, April and October were the only months in which housing starts improved over their performance in 2022. Overall, Canadian housing starts slumped 8% through the first 11 months of 2023.

current interest rates… have a more immediate impact on the market than in the U.S.

The numbers were disappointing but not unexpected. “We need thousands of units, but current interest rates — which have a more immediate impact on the market than in the U.S. — are a real deterrent,” said a Quebec-based buyer of Eastern S-P-F.

A traditional mortgage in Canada is limited to a five-year term. Rates for a five-year mortgage have increased by approximately 3% since their most recent low of 3.49% in March 2022. 

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