2019 sees record-breaking new housing starts in Metro Vancouver: CMHC

Region posts highest-ever construction figures, but predictions are for a slowdown over next year or two

Western Investor
January 9, 2020

Photo Dan Toulgoet

Last year saw a record high number of residential construction starts in Metro Vancouver, according to a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) report issued January 9.

Largely driven by multi-family units, the metropolitan region recorded 28,141 housing unit starts, outstripping the previous record of 27,914 in 2016.

The total of 28,141 starts is broken down by property type as 21,321 apartment/condo units, 3,426 single-family homes, 530 semi-detached/duplex homes and 2,864 townhouses/rowhouses.

CMHC identified the five most active municipalities for new housing starts in 2019:.

• Vancouver – 6,823 (5,504 condo-apartments, 1,090 detached homes, 190 semi-detached, 39 townhouses)

• Burnaby – 4,411 (4,195 condo-apartments, 146 detached homes, 48 semi-detached, 22 townhouses)

• Surrey – 4,312 (2,400 condo-apartments, 975 detached homes, 40 semi-detached, 897 townhouses)

• Richmond- 2,088 1,639 condo-apartments, 184 detached homes, 40 semi-detached, 225 townhouses)

• Langley (District) – 2,019 (1,350 condo-apartments, 258 detached homes, 36 semi-detached, 375 townhouses)

Of those total housing starts in 2019, 6,727 were rental units, said CMHC. Of those, 6,060 were apartments, 655 were detached rental houses and 12 were rental townhouses.

CMHC also identified the five busiest municipalities for new rental housing starts in 2019:

• Vancouver – 2,716 rental units (2,153 apartments, 563 detached homes)

• Surrey – 805 (all apartments)

• Burnaby – 509 (all apartments)

• Coquitlam – 481 (467 apartments, 14 detached homes)

• North Vancouver (City) – 451 (439 apartments, 12 detached homes)

However, 2019’s record starts were supported by strong presale activity from the preceding few years. Because of the recent market slowdown, this level of construction will likely not continue into this year, according to one economist.

Bryan Yu, Central 1 Credit Union chief economist, wrote in a January 8 column in Business in Vancouver, “While the trend in housing starts is elevated, a pullback of about 20 per cent is forecast for 2020. Nevertheless, recent interest rate cuts, rental demand and the federal First-Time Home Buyer Incentive program will support activity.”

For more detailed information on 2019’s housing starts in other municipalities, go to the CMHC’s online housing starts data.

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