Leader-Post October 9, 2010



September was another exceptionally busy month for home builders in Regina, Saskatoon and many other Saskatchewan cities.

The latest data, released Friday by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., indicates there were 136 housing starts in the metropolitan Regina area in September, which was up 67.9 per cent from September of last year.

While single family housing starts were actually down in Regina, a big increase in multi-family starts pushed the overall total well up.

"Creating multi-family homes in Regina has been especially strong this year,'' said Stu Niebergall, the executive director of the Regina and Region Home Builders' Association.

"The drop in single-detached home starts in September may be more of a time issue,'' Niebergall added, in a news release.

"The record amount of rain in the area this past spring and summer has created significant scheduling issues throughout the new home supply chain,'' Niebergall said.

But "the great weather we have had the past few weeks is beginning to make a difference,'' as home builders work to catch up on lost time, Niebergall said.

In the metropolitan Saskatoon area there were 191 housing starts in September, which was a 44.7-per-cent increase from September of last year.

A total of 1,755 housing starts have been made in metro Saskatoon in the first eight months of this year, which is an increase of more than 100 per cent from the 780 starts in the first eight months last year.

In metro Regina, there have been 921 housing starts in the first eight months of the year, which is a 38.9-per-cent increase from last year.

Several other metropolitan areas in Saskatchewan, including Swift Current, Estevan, Lloydminster and the Battlefords have also recorded significant increases in housing starts this year.

"The province's improving labour market continues to attract elevated numbers of migrants into Saskatchewan's centres,'' said Michael Fabiyi, a senior market analyst with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

"This is bolstering housing demand and fuelling a pace of starts rarely seen across this province,'' Fabiyi added.

Doug Elliott, the publisher of the Sask Trends Monitor newsletter, said the house construction industry has been "crazy'' busy and he does not believe the existing level of activity can be maintained indefinitely.

In an interview Friday, Fabiyi said he partially agrees with Elliott and believes the housing starts pace could slow down a bit in the next year or two.

A combination of higher mortgage interest rates and higher prices for homes could reduce the sales of new homes, Fabiyi said.

But continued in-migration to Saskatchewan and a continuing strong economy should keep the new housing market quite strong, Fabiyi said.

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Rebecca McLean

Rebecca McLean

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