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Toronto Had Nearly 11K More Home Starts Than Any Other Canadian City in 2020

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Toronto is closing out 2020 on top… of the list of Canadian cities with the most home starts, that is.

According to RE/MAX, Toronto is number one on the list by some 10,792 — and holds the top spot for not only starts, but completions and total absorptions (the rate at which available homes are sold in a given market during a given time period) as well.

As of December 4, the data showed Toronto with 30,085 starts. Montreal was more than 10,000 behind with 19,293, and Vancouver sits in third place with 16,179.

Because Vancouver boasted more completions and total absorptions than Quebec, though, (18,474 and 14,224 respectively, compared to 17,553 and 8,336), Vancouver holds the list’s second-place spot, while Quebec holds third.

READ: The Toronto Housing Market is on Fire, Except Where it’s Not

Of course, February and March saw a nation-wide pause in the housing market, but in the rebound, RE/MAX says the sector has been “on a tear.”

Sales activity, prices, and demand have all increased (for the most part, that is), while supply continues to shrink. The report notes the Bank of Canada’s low interest rates, as well as “the diligent work of real estate agents,”  as additional contributing factors that have led to homebuilders being in a position to leverage the current situation.

“Since most construction projects have been spared the worst of the pandemic, homebuilder activity has maintained its record-setting strength throughout the public health crisis. And this is occurring amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, generating discussion that the Canadian real estate industry is immune to the public health crisis.”

READ: HSBC Now Offering Select Mortgage Rates Below 1%

While housing starts did experience a double-digit decline in September, the following month presented a swift return. November data from the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) revealed that housing starts across the country reached 222,734 units in October, up 3% from the 214,372 units in September.

And, the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of housing starts rose to 214,875 units compared with September’s 208,715. The trend towards broader demands, plus the continuation of permit approvals, together suggest the resilience of housing starts will persist, RE/MAX says.

Based on the report’s findings, these are the top cities for housing starts across Canada so far in 2020:

#1: Toronto, ON

  • Starts: 30,085
  • Completions: 23,471
  • Total Absorptions: 21,525

#2: Vancouver, British Columbia

  • Starts: 16,179
  • Completions: 18,474
  • Total Absorptions: 14,224

#3: Montreal, Quebec

  • Starts: 19,293
  • Completions: 17,553
  • Total Absorptions: 8,336

#4: Edmonton, Alberta

  • Starts: 7,653
  • Completions: 8,429
  • Total Absorptions: 6,543

#5: Hamilton, Ontario

  • Starts: 2,360
  • Completions: 2,080
  • Total Absorptions: 1,666

#6: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

  • Starts: 1,468
  • Completions: 1,136
  • Total Absorptions: 805

#7: Winnipeg, Manitoba

  • Starts: 3,475
  • Completions: 3,785
  • Total Absorptions: 1,801

Looking ahead, the report echoes much of what other industry insiders have noted in recent months. That being: This is a time of uncertainty.

Just as the Bank of Canada can’t predict the future of homeowners’ financial health, and investors interested in downtown Toronto’s condo market are being cautioned to watch and wait, RE/MAX isn’t making any predictions on what next year will look like for housing starts.

Will 2021 be a repeat of 2020, or will we learn from the ebbs and flows of the past year, and sustain the strong market activity?” It’s a question the report poses, but — understandably — isn’t able to answer.

“At present, we can take solace in the fact that the national real estate market has shown tremendous resilience throughout the pandemic, and is prepared to forge forward with continued development in the housing sector.”

With files from Ainsley Smith.

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