Millennials and migrants are behind surging demand for new Canadian condos

Investment in homebuilding remains strong in Canada on the shoulders of continued demand for condos as a few key demographic groups all try to climb onto the property ladder, new analysis suggests.

“Demand for condos still remains robust amid the fastest population growth since the 1990s,” writes Priscilla Thiagamoorthy, an economic analyst for BMO, in a note to clients.

“Millennials, international migrants, and downsizing baby boomers are all vying for the last affordable housing option — in a few major cities,” she explains.

Thiagamoorthy’s comments were in response to building construction investment data Statistics Canada released April 23rd.

The Statistics Canada report says $15.3 billion was invested in building construction in February, up 3.8 percent compared to January. The national statistical agency says increased residential investment, which was up 5.4 percent to $11 billion, was largely responsible for the gains.

Drilling further down into the numbers, Statistics Canada highlights another investment driver. “The gain in residential investment was primarily due to renovation work, up $1.1 billion from the previous year,” the StatsCan report reads.

Thiagamoorthy underscores a changing tide in Canadian residential investment in terms of what types of homes are being invested in.

“Notably, investment in multis extended its upward trend to surpass investment in singles, reflecting a major shift,” she writes.

As cities have increased in density, multi-family homes — a majority of which are condos — have come to make up an increasing share of the new-construction market.

In the first quarter of this year, contractors broke ground for 37,283 homes, according to figures from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Of those dwellings, 29,104 were multi-family units versus just 8,179 single-family homes.

“The increase in total residential investment for February was driven by strength in multi-unit dwellings (+8.4% to $5.5 billion), while investment in single family homes rose more modestly (+2.6% to $5.5 billion),” StatsCan says in its report.

Josh Sherman