Montreal Surge Highlights Resilient Month for Canada Home Starts

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(Bloomberg) -- Montreal’s housing market showed fresh momentum in April, helping extend Canada’s above-average run of residential construction.

Starts in Canada’s second-most populous city jumped 63 percent in April from the prior month to an annualized 32,935, the nation’s housing agency reported Tuesday from Ottawa. Nationwide, work began on 214,379 new housing units in April, a decline of 4.9 percent from March, but remaining above the pivotal 200,000 mark for the 11th straight month.

That’s the longest such streak since 2012, and according to Robert Kavcic, it’s more significant than the monthly drop. “Residential construction activity continues at a strong pace, with momentum reaching beyond just the heated Ontario and British Columbia markets,” Kavcic, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a research note.

Signs of a broader housing boom also showed up with gains in Alberta and three smaller provinces on the east coast, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said. Toronto starts, meanwhile, fell 31 percent to 26,768 units, and Vancouver’s dropped 28 percent to 23,366.

Policy makers have moved to cool the Toronto and Vancouver markets over the last year amid signs of unsustainable price gains, and those markets were expected to slow after tougher mortgage rules took effect at the start of the year. The Bank of Canada raised interest rates three times since July, another potential drag on demand.

“The national trend in housing starts remained stable at historically elevated levels” CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan said in a statement.

Starts in Montreal were powered by a 73 percent jump in multiple-unit work to 30,562 in April. Housing starts on an unadjusted basis in the city are growing at the fastest yearly pace since 2006.

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