Preliminary housing starts data for November 2008 released last week by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reported a 75% increase for single family dwelling permits in the Town of Pelham compared to the same month last year. Before we get too excited about this statistic it is important to note that this represented 7 building permits compared to the 4 permits issued last November.
To say that the interpretation of market statistics is subjective is an understatement equivalent to the likes of describing Christmas as having become somewhat commercial. Consider this October 5, 2007 housing news headline from the Globe and Mail -“Sales and prices continue their record-setting climb.” The article opened with the question, “Is there any direction but up for housing prices in the Greater Toronto Area?” Well I guess none of us need 20/20 hindsight to know the answer to that one.
In contrast to last year’s message of such credulous delight, consumers this Fall have been served a steady media diet of plummeting sales, building booms screeching to a halt, never ending market freefalls and global economic meltdown. Combine the flexible nature of statistical data with the magnitude of the variety of media sources available in our modern virtual reality it is not surprising that the average person is feeling paralyzed in the crossfire of negative information overload.
Here is the straight goods on the current housing start picture in Pelham, Welland and the Niagara Region. Total starts of single detached homes in Pelham for January-November 2008 declined 15 per cent to 57 homes compared to 67 last year during the same period. Welland single detached housing starts increased 15 per cent. There was a ten per cent decrease in Niagara as a whole compared to a 21 per cent decline in the national total. Is the market bad or just down? You decide.