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Altus Group housing report documents spring collapse

Altus Group housing report documents spring collapse

TORONTO — The latest Canadian Housing Report from Altus Group found that Canadians still want to buy homes and that homebuying intentions remain similar to the same time in 2019.

But the report, released June 23, found that new-home sales are taking a hit in Southern Ontario with less than 800 total new-home sales in the Greater Toronto Area in April, down 80 per cent from April 2019.

The pattern was similar for the combined areas outside the GTA, as total new sales dropped 78 per cent from last April.

When the COVID‐19 pandemic hit, most planned new-project launches were put on hold, sales programs for existing projects moved to virtual or by‐appointment‐only models, and short‐term homebuying plans were disrupted by employment uncertainty as well as the challenges of stay‐at‐home routines, Altus Group found.

Sales of rental apartment buildings were generally down in March, although one-third of rental investors feel that it’s a good time for opportunistic buying, the research found.

Altus Group asked its clients which factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic posed risks for the multi-family rental market and in order they were: layoffs and rising unemployment; decline in household/discretionary income; more stringent financing conditions; decline in consumer confidence; small business bankruptcies; and rising government debt.

Canada‐wide housing starts for the month of March were 195,200 units seasonally adjusted at annual rate, down for the second month in a row. The decline was due entirely to lower apartment starts as the single‐family sector rose slightly, noted the report.

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