Residents of the nation's capital are passing up single-home dwellings in favour of condos and other high-density dwellings, thanks to a decline in the economy, analysts say.

"In Ottawa, there were 502 housing starts in Jan. 2008," Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation senior market analyst Sandra Perez Torres said yesterday.

But by Jan. 2009, that number dropped to 411, a decline of 18 per cent.


However, condominium apartment construction during the first month of 2009 was strong with 213 new units started, accounting for 52 per cent of the total.

"We're seeing a clear trend in Ottawa," said Perez Torres. "We're seeing higher-density construction this year, versus single-home construction. Higher-density construction will become the most sought-after dwelling type in Ottawa's new home market.

"In uncertain economic times, people are waiting on the sidelines to make the biggest decision of their lives."

Although unemployment has decreased in the Ottawa region, "people are still deciding to wait for now," she said.

During January, new home construction was most active in the city core and least active in the suburbs.

Vanier led the way in construction, with 189 new condominium apartment units and 25 row houses, accounting for almost three-quarters of all high-density construction.

In Ottawa, the decline in housing affected the suburbs, including Goulbourn and Kanata, the most.

Single-detached home construction dropped from 140 in Jan. 2008 to 111 in Jan. 2009, a 20 per cent decline. Row homes also fell from 107 in Jan. 2008 to 69 in Jan. 2009, and apartments, from 249 in Jan. 2008 to 218 in Jan. 2009.

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