Housing starts more than double as prices rise

Typical detached house in Abbotsford now costs $642,300

The number of new homes under construction in Abbotsford has risen substantially over the first half of 2016.

The number of new homes under construction in Abbotsford has risen substantially over the first half of 2016.

Housing starts have more than doubled in Abbotsford and Mission through the first half of 2016 as home values continue to skyrocket across the region.

The Abbotsford-Mission Census Metropolitan Area saw 665 housing starts through June, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). That number is a 146 per cent increase over the same time period in 2015. While other large B.C. centres also reported substantial jumps in housing starts, none matched the Abbotsford region’s increase.

“The trend measure of housing starts posted its highest level since 1990 as all home types trended higher in June,” said Carol Frketich, CMHC’s BC regional economist, in a press release. “The inventory of new completed and unsold (unabsorbed) homes is extremely low. As well, a lack of existing homes for sale, rising home prices and low rental vacancy rates have spurred new home construction, pushing British Columbia housing starts to historic highs.”

The figures came out days after new data from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board showed home prices hit another new high in June.

The benchmark price of a typical detached home in Abbotsford reached $642,300 in June, up 37 per cent from a year ago, when the benchmark price was $468,700, and 4.5 per cent from the previous month.

The month-over-month increase was nonetheless lower than that seen in May, when single-family home prices rose by seven per cent.

While increasing values had previously been focused on detached houses, prices of townhomes and apartments are also starting to rise substantially. Benchmark prices for townhouses are now up 18 per cent over the last year after jumping 5.9 per cent between May and June. Apartment benchmark prices have risen by 19 per cent, after a 3.6 per cent jump in the last month.

“Demand for Fraser Valley homes grips the market, tightly. Still, we are seeing a slight leveling-off that while not drastic, is giving both buyers and sellers a bit more room to maneuver,” said FVREB president Charles Wiebe in a press release. “Simply put, to meet demand, we need even more listings. More than half of our active inventory consists of new listings that came on to the MLS in June; our market is truly in the hands of hopeful sellers.”