From The Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON - Jobs and newcomers are boosting home construction in the Edmonton region to levels not seen since the early 2000s, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
Housing starts in the Edmonton census metropolitan area for July surged to 1,435, up from 1,034 in July 2011.
“Housing starts in Edmonton continue to be supported by employment growth and net migration,” said David Lan, CMHC senior market analyst for Edmonton.
Lan pointed to Statistics Canada figures showing net migration to Alberta jumped to 22,067 people in the first quarter of 2012, compared to the 8,983 in the same quarter in 2011.
“A strengthening resale market also contributed to the higher level of housing starts in July.”
The increase is part of a year-to-date upward trend. From January to July, builders started 6,903 homes, up from 5,085 in the first seven months of 2011.
On a year-to-date basis, those levels are close to numbers seen in 2002 and 2003, Lan said.
Increases were seen in both single-family detached and multi-family residential sectors.
Single-family home construction in the Edmonton CMA went up 22 per cent in July to 582 homes, compared to 479 a year earlier.
For the city of Edmonton alone, builders poured foundations for 341 single-detached homes, up from 289 started in July 2011.
So far this year, 3,177 single homes were started, up 17 per cent year-over-year.
In the multi-family sector, 853 units started going up in July, compared to 555 a year ago. Nearly 90 per cent of the multi-family construction is happening in the city, CMHC said.
“When migrants first arrive to Alberta, they tend to rent first,” Lan said. “We’re looking at a very tight rental market so that’s why builders are building more rental apartments to meet the demand.”
So far this year, 3,726 multi-family homes started in the Edmonton CMA. That’s up from 2,380 homes started in the same time last year.
Provincewide, homebuilding is also up, with 2,611 starts in July compared to 1,953 a year earlier.
City of Edmonton chief economist John Rose said July marked the eighth consecutive month local housing starts have gone up.
“It’s reflective of the fact that the underlying economy is doing very, very well,” Rose said.
“This is the housing construction sector responding to the fact that we’re anticipating significant demand for new housing.”
But Rose said new home sales so far appear to be lagging behind starts.
“The mystery so far in the housing market for Edmonton has been the demand for new housing has been relatively muted given very strong employment numbers.
“It suggests significant pent-up demand and that people are being a little bit cautious and perhaps reflective of the fact that everyone’s looking around at the global situations.”