Lethbridge housing starts far surpassed similar-sized Alberta cities in 2017: CMHC

Lethbridge new home construction way ahead of similar sized cities
WATCH: Lethbridge home builders were busy last year, at least according to the latest numbers. The city saw a huge increase in multi-unit homes in 2017. Here's Joe Scarpelli with a closer look at the numbers.

Lethbridge-area home builders were busy last year, according to the latest numbers from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

According to the CMHC, there were 769 total housing starts in Lethbridge in 2017, which is almost 100 more than 2016. The numbers also show Lethbridge is seeing more new home construction than Grand Prairie, Red Deer and Medicine Hat combined.

There were 194 starts in Grande Prairie, 331 in Red Deer and 140 in Medicine Hat in 2017 for a total of 665 housing starts.

“I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as a boom, I would describe it as stable,” Kristen DeMone, an executive officer with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association in Lethbridge, told Global News on Wednesday. “There’s been steady growth in our industry, which is what we look for.”

DeMone attributes the steady growth to the city’s economic diversity.

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READ MORE: Pace of housing starts picks up in December, CMHC says

The CMHC reports just one more single-family home was built in Lethbridge in 2017 compared to 2016. However, there were 91 more multi-family homes built, which are townhouses, apartments and condos.

“If you look at our stats this years compared to last year, we’re up quite a bit,” DeMone said. “But when you look at 2016 compared to 2015, we were down. So multi-family, depending on the projects in that year, there’s more fluctuation — so it’s not an accurate way to look at the market as compared to single family.”

READ MORE: Lethbridge among the fastest-growing economies in Alberta: report

Ashcroft Homes contributed almost 100 new home starts in 2017. Sales manager Dave Bodell says the good news doesn’t end there.

“Absorption rates are important, so that’s the number of sales in the industry, and those have been strong as well in Lethbridge,” Bodell said.

With new homes being built and bought, Royal LePage broker designate Karen Davis says the housing starts have had a positive impact on real estate agents in the area.

“Anybody that moves into a new build has to have sold their old property they were living in, unless it’s a first-time purchase for them.”

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Industry experts believe 2018 will see similar numbers if not even better than last year.