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Metro Vancouver housing starts down 28 per cent in July

Sharp drop from a month earlier is in step with a downturn in housing sales
Vancouver-area housing starts and sales continue to cool. | Chung Chow

Bucking a national trend, Metro Vancouver July housing starts fell 28 per cent compared to a month earlier, according to the latest data from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).

Meanwhile, Vancouver-area residential sales through the multiple listing service were down 22.8 per cent in July from June, reports the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

Early data shows the sales decline has continued into the first half of August.

Across Canada, the annual pace of housing starts in July edged higher compared with June despite a slowdown in urban starts, CMHC reported. The federal housing agency said Canada’s  seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts in July was 275,329 units, an increase of 1.1 per cent from the previous month.

In Metro Vancouver, which includes Surrey and Langley, annual housing starts fell to 23,318 units in July, down from more than 32,300 a month before.

Starts across B.C. were down 14 per cent, month over month, to 45,527 new homes, CMHC reported.  This is in sharp contrast to neighbouring Alberta, where starts were up 9 per cent to 41,195 units.

Compared to a year earlier, July housing starts in Metro Vancouver were down 6 per cent from July 2021 and 2 per cent lower for the province.

Sales and listings of existing housing have continued to cool in August across the Vancouver region.

“Vancouver is taking a break from real estate,” quipped Kevin Skipworth, managing partner with Dexter Associates Realty in Vancouver.

Skipworth said early data shows the downward trend in housing sales, which began in March, has extended into August, but that the supply of homes for sale is falling even faster.

At mid-month in August, there have been 1,813 new listings in Greater Vancouver, 39 per cent below the mid-month pace in July which was 2,958 at that point. A total of 884 homes had sold as of August 15 in Greater Vancouver, compared to 1,252 homes sold at mid-July, which itself was 29 per cent below the mid-month pace in June, according to early data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

“This will likely produce around 1,800 home sales for the month of August, which would be the least amount for that month since 1998,” Skipworth noted.