(Adds economist comment, details from the report)
OTTAWA May 8 Canadian housing starts fell in
April after an unexpected surge in March but remained near a
five-year high, data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation showed on Monday.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts fell
to 214,098 units in April, slightly above analysts' expectations
of 210,000. The figure for March was revised slightly lower to
252,305 units, the federal housing agency said.
"It's been a great start to the year for Canadian housing
starts, even if April cooled from March's blistering pace," CIBC
Capital Markets economist Nick Exarhos said in a research note.
The pace of new homebuilding is at its fastest in close to
five years, Exarhos said, with a bit more momentum expected,
given strength in recent housing permits.
Canada's long housing boom has shown signs of slowing in
recent weeks after a series of government moves to cool lending
and impose a foreign buyers tax in Toronto and Vancouver, but
starts have defied an expected slowdown for years.
Multiple urban starts decreased 16.7 percent to 134,314
units in April from March, while single-detached urban starts
fell 12.1 percent to 65,171, the CMHC said.
The report showed most of the strength in recent months has
come from apartment construction in British Columbia and Quebec,
partly offset by a decline in starts of multiple units,
typically condos or apartments, in Ontario.
The agency had warned of housing problems nationally with
overvaluation in areas around Toronto and Vancouver, the two
The provincial government of Ontario imposed a 15 percent
foreign buyers tax in April, matching British Columbia's move in
August for Vancouver. Prices in the two cities have increased at
double-digit percentage rates, sparking fears of a housing
(Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Paul Simao and Lisa