indicatorThe Owl

Housing starts trending up

New home construction in Alberta highest in 8 years

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 19 October 2023 1 min read

The number of housing starts* recorded in Alberta jumped by 21% in September compared to the month before.

At over 49,000 (seasonally adjusted at an annual rate), the number of starts in September was the highest since March 2015. The increase was led by multi-unit urban projects.

Even after adjusting for regular seasonal variation, month-to-month housing starts tend to jump around so it is useful to look at the six-month moving average.

The spike in September reflects a strong upward trend in recent months (see the chart below), but year-to-date (YTD) starts over the first nine months of 2023 were 7% lower than over the same period in 2022.

As of our most recent economic outlook for Alberta, our forecast is for housing starts to come in at 32,400 in 2023, just below the current pace of 33,800.

Our forecast for next year has annual housing starts rising to 38,500 as builders respond to the demand generated by population growth and tight supply.

Looking at Alberta’s two largest urban centres, YTD activity has been strong in Calgary (+10%), but weak in Edmonton (-18%) with the six-month moving average showing an upward trend in both cities since May.

Nationally, YTD starts were down by 8%, but as in Alberta, the six-month moving average reveals a rising trend over the last few months.

*A housing start is defined as the beginning of construction work on the building where the dwelling unit will be located. This can be described in two ways: 1) the stage when the concrete has been poured for the whole of the footing around the structure; or 2) an equivalent stage where a basement will not be part of the structure.

Answer to the previous trivia question: Built sometime between 1876 and 1881, Calgary’s Hunt House is Alberta’s oldest surviving house.

Today’s trivia question: What was the benchmark price of a townhouse in Alberta in September?

Housing starts in Alberta hit an 8-year high in September 2023

Housing starts in Alberta hit an 8-year high in September 2023

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