Nanaimo: Leading The Island In New Construction In ’09

If you’ve been watching the stats these past few months, working in the industry or just reading my blog you’ll have already know that since the summer we’ve seen things bouncing back. I had certainly noticed a large increase in the number of housing starts in that time but it is news to me as well that we were ahead of neighbouring communities. It doesn’t come as a surprise though because in the past few years we’ve also seen a lot of ambition on behalf of the municipal and provincial government to expand/improve amenities, parks, various facilities and so on.

I found the following in the Times Colonist, a newspaper from Victoria.

Ryan Coffey

Nanaimo heads new housing starts on Vancouver Island in 2009

New house construction is starting to recover after rough economic times saw financing and purchasing dry up.

New house construction is starting to recover after rough economic times saw financing and purchasing dry up.

Photograph by: Files , Times Colonist

Nanaimo was the brightest spot for new home starts on Vancouver Island in the past year, the Canada Mortgage and Housing said Monday.

While the “Hub City” had 13 per cent fewer starts last year than in 2008, other Island communities saw annual declines of up to 53 per cent year-over-year.

Recovery from a struggling economy looks promising as the last three months of 2009 had more new housing starts than the last five quarters.

“The modest rebound in new construction activity observed during the fourth quarter of 2009 is a sign that builders are starting to respond to the recent surge in resale demand,” said Travis Archibald, CMHC senior market analyst.

On Vancouver Island the total number of homes getting under construction last year was 2,345, down 39 per cent from 3,823 in 2008.

Last year’s numbers are not a surprise. The worldwide economic crisis and crash in the local multi-family housing boom led to lower monthly start-up numbers in 2009.

However, national house construction rose more than expected in December as Canada’s real estate market continued to show signs of recovery.

Housing starts in Nanaimo slipped just 13 per cent for 2009, compared with far larger drops elsewhere on the Island. A total of 789 homes were started in Nanaimo in 2009, down from 921 in 2008.

At year’s end, Greater Victoria had the highest number of total starts, at 1,034, down 45.7 per cent from 2008’s total of 1,905.

In December, 129 homes were stated in Victoria, down from 159 in November, but a huge increase from just 38 in December 2008.

Duncan’s total starts for last year came in at 168, down 38.9 per cent from 2008. The Courtenay area saw starts slide by 52.6 per cent to 245 in 2009, from 517 the previous year, CMHC said.

Finally, Parksville-Qualicam ended the year with 100 starts, a drop from 205 in 2008.

CMHC said the number of seasonally adjusted housing starts across the country were up 5.9 per cent from November, to 174,500 units. Most economists had expected an increase of between 160,000 and 165,000 units in December, following an upwardly revised 164,800 starts the previous month.

“The improvement in housing starts was broad based in December,” said CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan. “Solid increases occurred in both single and multiple starts to end the year.”

The Bank of Canada may shed further light on whether that strength has pushed Canada into a housing bubble when one of the governor’s advisers talks about the real estate sector in a speech Monday afternoon in Edmonton.

The speech will be closely watched for clues of growing concern among Bank of Canada policy-makers on the red-hot recovery in Canadian real estate. It is to be delivered by David Wolf, an adviser to Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney.

According to CMHC data, urban starts were up 6.6 per cent to 157,100 units in December, CMHC said in its report. Multiple-unit starts totalled 77,700 during the month, up from 72,800 units in November, while single-unit starts totalled 79,400, up 6.4 per cent from the previous month.

Urban construction was up 17.8 per cent in Quebec, 15 per cent in Atlantic Canada, 8.7 per cent in British Columbia and 2.9 per cent in Ontario, the report said. In the Prairies, urban starts declined 3.8 per cent.

Rural starts were unchanged at 17,400 units.

“Overall, the uptick in Canadian residential starts underscores the improving response of builders to the dramatic rebound in overall Canadian housing market activity,” said Ian Pollick, economics strategist at TD Securities.

“It is increasingly looking like the ‘fever’ in the existing home sales market is starting to catch in the new residential housing market. Further, the pullback seen in permits strikes us to be an unwind from unsustainably strong gains due to one-off factors.”

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada said Monday that Greater Victoria’s building permits climbed to $68.6 million in November, up by 48 per cent from $46.4 million October, and higher than November 2008’s total of $49.3.

The Victoria construction industry received a boost Monday with the announced of $42.5-million in renovations to six UVic buildings.

The value of national building permits fell in November by 4.6 per cent from the previous month to $5.9 billion. Still, that was 23.1 per cent higher than November 2008 and 62.8 per cent higher than February 2009, “when the lowest value during the economic downturn was recorded,” the federal agency said.

“However, November’s value remained below values recorded in 2007 and early 2008.”

The decline was due to a drop in the non-residential sector, which offset increases in the residential sector, the agency said.

In a separate release, the Construction Sector Council said the industry the housing recovery is helping the industry emerge from the recession “relatively unscathed,” as a result of government stimulus spending and pre-recession record levels of investment.

The not-for-profit group said construction employment has been rising since August after falling from October 2008 to July 2009.

“This will likely continue because of new infrastructure projects, renovation and maintenance work, and strengthening housing starts,” it said.

Canwest News Service

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