Following similar housing trends, the annual pace of national housing starts declined in April, fresh off the heels of March's record-setting highs.

In April, the standalone monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of starts fell nearly 20% with 268,631 units, down from 334,759 units in March, as the pace of multiple-unit housing projects slowed, according to Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC).

At the same time, CMHC says the trend in housing starts was 279,055 in April, up from 271,164 in March -- this trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly SAAR of housing starts.

CMHC says the annual pace of urban starts also fell 16.9% in April to 251,504 units as the pace of starts of apartments, condos, and other types of multiple-unit housing projects dropped 22.8% to 251,504 units.

Housing starts graph 1April 2021/CMHC

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The national housing agency says the annual rate of single-detached urban starts also edged down 0.1% to 78,918, while rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,127 units.

Multi-family SAAR starts declined or moderated in most CMAs that had seen strong growth in this component the previous month, including Toronto and Vancouver.

According to CMHC, Montreal recorded the highest number of housing starts with 39,596 units started in April, followed by Toronto (33,951), Vancouver (19,223), and Calgary (15,006).

On a provincial level, CMHC says Ontario recorded the greatest number of project starts in April, with a total of 102,068 units, including 35,719 single-detached starts and 66,349 'other' starts.

"The national trend in housing starts remained elevated in April, despite a decline in the level of monthly SAAR starts from the record high set in March," said Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist.

"Single-detached SAAR starts held steady following a modest increase in March. Nonetheless, the overall trend-level of activity remains elevated as a result of strong activity so far this year," added Dugan.

In line with the decline in monthly starts, Canada’s housing market is starting to show signs of cooling down, as home sales fell 12.5% in April from the all-time record high set in March -- mirroring what’s also happening in Toronto’s housing market.

However, sales in April were still a record for the month and up 256% compared to a year ago when the pandemic brought Canada’s housing market to a near standstill.