The year concluded with the six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts hitting nearly 240,000 new starts in December, according to the latest data from Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC).

On Monday, CMHC released its latest housing starts data, which revealed the monthly trend in housing starts nationally was 239,052 units in December, up from 236,334 units recorded in November.

Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist, says, "following pandemic-induced declines in early-2020, the trend in total housing starts has registered steady gains since May 2020. Despite the on-going pandemic, these gains leave the year-end 2020 SAAR of total starts above the 2019 annual total.”

Canadian housing starts trended higher december en

READ: Toronto Saw Record-High Population Loss in 2020: Stats Canada

The latest data also showed the annual pace of housing starts in December fell compared with November, according to CMHC, with the monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada, excluding Kelowna, falling 12.2% in December from November to 228,279.

However, the December survey was not conducted in Kelowna due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but CMHC said Kelowna’s exclusion didn’t impact the overall trends for the month.

What's more, the SAAR of urban starts decreased by 12.8% in December and multiple urban starts decreased by 15.1%, while single-detached urban starts decreased by 5.5%. Additionally, rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 22,373 units.

According to CHMC, Toronto had the second-highest SAAR dwelling starts in December, after recording 31,048. Canada’s largest city follows on the heels of Montreal (33,872), with Vancouver (26,187), Edmonton (16,867), and Calgary (10,002) rounding out the top five.

Locally, Toronto recorded 2,588 new housing starts for all home types in December, a 43% year-over-year increase from the same time last year. When broken down by segment, there were 429 single-detached starts last month -- a 5% year-over-year increase -- and 2,159 housing starts for all other home types -- a 53% year-over-year increase.

As for what we can expect in the months to come, residential construction can continue amid the province remaining under stay-at-home orders, as home builders' activities have been deemed essential by the provincial government.

“With these new restrictions, the Ontario government continues to make public safety the priority. Our industry has a strong record of implementing enhanced protocols under COVID-19,” said Joe Vaccaro, CEO of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA), in a joint public statement with the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

“While the new restrictions will slow the delivery of new housing for some projects, case levels have gotten to the point that all sectors and residents must be part of the solution,” he added.

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