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Housing starts slump a surprise in Vancouver

New housing sales in Vancouver have been on a blistering pace over the past two years and the inventory of new condos is at historic lows, so it was a surprise to some when housing starts plunged through the first half of 2017.
In the City of Vancouver total housing starts have dropped 80 per cent in the first half compared to the same period in 2016, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., down from 5,784 to 1,860 units.
Single-family detached starts in the city declined from 708 to 462 houses, while starts of condominium apartments fell from 3,290 in the first half of 2016 to just 880 this year.
“It is a surprise, considering the high demand” said Vancouver real estate consultant and author Ozzie Jurock.
A report prepared for the Urban Development Institute,Pacific Region found that, despite near-record construction levels, there were less than a dozen new and unsold condominiums in Vancouver - a record low - as of the first quarter of this year.
Total housing starts across the Metro Vancouver region also fell, but by a smaller margin, to 12,200 units so far this year, compared to 14,840 in the same period a year earlier. Increases were seen in larger suburban communities, such as Burnaby, Surrey, Coquitlam and Langley.
Eric Bond, CMHC principal market analysis in Vancouver, noted that the number of homes under construction hit a record high in May across all of Metro Vancouver of 39,141 units and remained near that level in June
“The constraints on builders are very real in terms of the availability and costs of equipment and materials, which means further increasing the pace of construction is challenging,” Bond said.
Vancouver developer and architect Michael Geller said the lack of starts in Vancouver may relate to a current backlog of applications. “[The developers] are probably waiting for permits,” he said.

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