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New home starts jump in Red Deer

New home construction in Red Deer spiked last month, with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reporting 141 housing starts in the city — an increase from 16 in November 2012.

Pushing the tally upward were starts on 99 units in multi-family projects, as compared with just two in the same month a year ago. The number of single-detached houses started in November also jumped this year, to 42 from 14.

Total housing starts in Red Deer last month were well above those in Alberta’s other mid-sized urban areas.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (Fort McMurray) trailed Red Deer with 76 starts, followed by Lethbridge with 56, Medicine Hat with 39 and Grande Prairie with 25.

The cities of Calgary and Edmonton had 1,451 and 747 housing starts respectively last month.

In October, Red Deer had 52 residential starts: 32 multi-family units and 20 single-detached.

With one month remaining in 2013, local builders had combined for 750 starts. That was well ahead of last year’s January-to-November tally of 515 starts, and the full-year total of 568.

Multi-family starts accounted for 385 of Red Deer’s 11-month total, with single-detached projects adding 365. Those numbers compare with 219 multi-family and 296 single-detached starts to the same point in 2012.

Nationally, CMHC’s November figures suggest that the housing market could be softening.

The country’s annualized rate of starts last month was down three per cent from October.

Most of the weakness was concentrated in Ontario, which saw a drop of 16.6 per cent, and in Atlantic Canada, where starts fell by a whopping 24.8 per cent.

But condo building in British Columbia drove starts there up 12.5 per cent and the Prairies and Quebec saw gains of 9.1 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively.

The Bank of Canada and the federal government have long fretted over housing in Canada, fearing that if it continues to rise above potential it will result in a sudden and damaging crash once interest rates start rising, triggering an overall economic slowdown.

Analysts say the ideal situation would be for the market to slowly decline, not crash and burn.

They agreed that housing is moving in the right direction — the market heated up somewhat during the summer and early fall, but now appears to be levelling off.

Canadawide, November’s pullback was evenly distributed between single-family homes (down 3.1 per cent), and multiples, which declined 3.5 per cent.

Urban starts decreased by 3.4 per cent on a seasonally adjusted annual rate, while rural starts were flat.



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