Halifax’s housing market was up last month — technically.
Construction of new housing units in February was up almost 50 per cent over last year, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. But almost all of that was due to a new, 90-unit apartment building in Mainland North.
Starts of actual houses fell sharply from 73 in 2008 to just 22 last month. But because of the apartment building overall numbers were up from 86 to 128.
“When you have (no apartments started) in January and February last year and then you suddenly have almost 100 units in February this year it’s going to impact the numbers,” said CMHC analyst Matthew Gilmore.
January and February are typically slow months since it is harder to begin construction in the winter. And while housing numbers have been dropping in recent months, it’s part of a larger slide that’s taken place ever since a peak in 2002.
But Gilmore said the city’s job and wage numbers are strong and it is cautiousness and uncertainty holding people back.
“What’s likely going to happen over the next couple of years is numbers are going to remain somewhat subdued,” he said. “And then as the bigger economy picks up and demand starts to pick up a little bit with that, we’re going to see some growth.”
Nationally, urban centres across Canada saw a widespread decline for February, down 59 per cent compared to last year. The CMHC said construction is slowing to more sustainable levels.