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Multi-family housing starts in Alberta

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 23 April 2024 1 min read

Multi-family homes (a.k.a. townhouses and apartments) vary widely in price, but are generally less expensive than single-detached homes.

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, the average benchmark price of a single-family home in Alberta in March was $575,600 (seasonally adjusted) compared to $405,000 for a townhouse and $296,700 for an apartment.

This is an important difference in general, but it is particularly salient given the housing affordability challenges facing many Canadians.

More multi-family units is only one piece of a complex housing affordability puzzle, but it is an encouraging sign that there has been an uptick in multi-family housing starts.*

As of the first quarter of the year, multi-family starts in Alberta were 69% higher than the same quarter in 2023 compared to a 38% increase in single-detached starts. In Edmonton, multi-family starts were 67% higher in Q1 compared to the same quarter in 2023. The increase was smaller, but still large, in Calgary at 51%.

Housing starts are notoriously volatile, but an upward trend in multi-family starts is evident over the last three years. Annual multi-family starts in Alberta have increased every year since 2021 and their share of total annual starts has gone from 55% in 2021 to 64% in 2023.

Given ongoing population growth, low inventory in the resale market, and affordability concerns, we anticipate that overall housing starts in the province will increase in 2024 (see our most recent economic forecast for Alberta) with multi-family units continuing to lead the charge.

*A housing start is defined as the beginning of construction work on the building where the dwelling unit will be located.

Answer to the previous trivia question: According to the Provincial Archives of Alberta, the province was named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848-1939), the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria.

Today’s trivia question: When was the last time the Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup?

Multi-family housing starts accounted for 71% of all starts in Alberta in the first quarter of 2024

Multi-family housing starts accounted for 71% of all starts in Alberta in the first quarter of 2024

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