Residential Construction in Gatineau: Multi-Family Housing Moves Ahead



    GATINEAU, April 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
(CMHC) revealed today, for the first time, the results of its latest starts
survey to the members of the Association provinciale des constructeurs
d'habitations du Québec (APCHQ) of the Outaouais region. CMHC also took this
opportunity to provide an update on housing activity in the Gatineau area, in
a context where the economic and demographic changes that are currently taking
place could affect real estate market conditions.
    In the first quarter of 2007, residential construction slowed down in the
Gatineau area. In fact, 417 housing units were started in the first three
months of the year, or 7 per cent fewer than during the same period in 2006.
    The decline was essentially attributable to the single-detached home
segment, in which activity decreased by 30 per cent in relation to the first
quarter of 2006. Foundations were laid for a total of 156 single-detached
houses from January to March, compared to 224 during the corresponding period
last year.
    Conversely, the year got off to a strong start in the multi-family
housing segment, with 261 new units, for an increase of 18 per cent over the
first quarter of 2006.
    The first quarter results give some indication of the coming trend.
"Single-detached houses had been dominating the new home market since 1996,"
noted Pascal-Yvan Pelletier, Market Analyst at CMHC. "In last few months,
however, the trend turned around, and multi-family housing is moving ahead,"
he added. Over the coming years, townhouses (semi-detached and row homes) and
apartment buildings will take up more and more space in the Gatineau
landscape.
    The Gatineau regional economy is doing well but, with the rise in prices,
a need for less expensive homes is being felt. Also, in certain sectors, like
Hull, lands available for residential construction are getting scarcer. In
fact, the City of Gatineau, through its housing policy adopted in October
2006, wants to encourage the construction of multi-family housing in order to
increase the city's density and allow more families to live in the central
sectors.
    An analysis by sector effectively shows renewed activity in Hull. While
no starts had been enumerated there during the first three months of 2006,
19 new dwellings were registered in the first quarter of this year, 18 of
which were multiple housing units. Aylmer also posted an increase in activity.
In fact, this was the only sector where the construction of single-detached
homes rose, with 72 new units, or double the volume recorded last year. In the
former municipality of Gatineau and the outlying area, however, starts fell by
39 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.
    The backdrop for residential construction in Gatineau is gradually
changing. Employment continues to grow, but at a slower pace. Gatineau still
attracts people from other areas and even from other countries, but less so
than in recent years. The supply of existing homes for sale has been growing
steadily for some time now and providing competition for the new home market.
Residential construction significantly benefited from the scarcity of "For
Sale" signs, but this period is over. The shortage of rental housing is also
behind us, as the vacancy rate reached 4.2 per cent last fall. For all these
reasons, there should be a decline in the need for new housing over the coming
years and, consequently, a slowdown in residential construction. The first
quarter results therefore give an indication of what is expected over the
coming months.
    Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canada's national
housing agency for more than 60 years. CMHC is committed to helping Canadians
access a wide choice of quality, affordable homes, while making vibrant,
healthy communities and cities a reality across the country. For more
information, visit www.cmhc.ca or call 1-800-668-2642.

    
                         PRELIMINARY HOUSING STARTS
                                GATINEAU AREA
                               January to March

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sector                   Singles       Multiples(2)                Total
                        -----------------------------------------------------
                        2006    2007    2006    2007    2006    2007       %
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Aylmer                36      72     101     124     137     196      43
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hull                   0       1       0      18       0      19      --
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Gatineau             150      60     117     104     267     164     -39
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Outlying area(1)      38      23       4      15      42      38     -10
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total                224     156     222     261     446     417      -7
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Source: CMCH
    (1) Outlying area: Masson-Angers, Buckingham, Val-des-Monts, Cantley,
        Chelsea, La Pêche, Pontiac and, since 2007, Denholm and
        L'Ange-Gardien.
    (2) Multiples: semi-detached houses, row homes, apartments and others.
    




For further information:

For further information: Julie Cohen, Communications, CMHC, (514)
217-9478


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