According to the results of the latest monthly survey conducted by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), residential construction grew this past month in Quebec's centres with 10,000 or more inhabitants.
In all, 3,696 dwellings were started in December 2009, compared to 2,747 a year earlier. Moreover, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of starts for this same month (44,400) was stronger than the pace recorded in December (37,700). Nationally, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts was 157,100 units in December.
The jump in residential construction registered in December in Quebec was due to the increase in activity in both the single-detached (46 per cent) and multi-family (30 per cent) home segments. From a regional standpoint, the Montréal and Québec CMAs posted significant rises (see table).
December's result brings total annual housing starts in urban centres to 37,006, down by 11 per cent from 2008.
"The level of activity recorded in 2009 corresponds exactly to our forecast of a year ago. As we expected, new homebuilding in Quebec did in deed decline in 2009, however not to the extent observed in other provinces. Given Quebec's less vulnerable industrial base and the fact that it's housing markets had already began to cool since a few years, it was clear to us that housing demand in the province would be less affected by the recession. This was indeed the case," said Kevin Hughes, Regional Economist at CMHC.
For all census metropolitan areas (CMAs) across Quebec, single-detached home starts increased by nearly 50 per cent from December 2008, while multiple-family housing starts went up by over 40 per cent. In all, foundations were laid for 3,051 dwellings in the province's CMAs during December, for an increase of 44 per cent from a year earlier.
In contrast, census agglomerations with 50,000 to 99,999 inhabitants recorded another drop in December (75 less units than in December of 2008). This was, however, due to lower activity in the multi family segment (- 44 per cent). Starts of single-family, on the other hand, posted growth of 33 per cent. In smaller urban agglomerations (with 50,000 to 99,999 inhabitants), the level recorded in the last quarter of 2009 were practically identical to those recorded during the same period a year ago (see table).
Still according to the survey results, construction was up across all tenure types. Starts of homes destined to the freehold (50 per cent) and rental markets (94 per cent) were notable examples. Meanwhile, the increase in the total amount of condominium starts (20 per cent) was due to activity in the Montréal CMA.
"Again in 2009, the share of multi-family housing starts increased in Quebec urban centres. This share amounted to 65 per cent last year, compared to 45 per cent at the beginning of the decade. In addition to longer run factors such as population aging and the movement toward densification, the search for more affordable housing has recently strengthened this trend," added Kevin Hughes.