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Hammers are swinging and foundations being laid in Kelowna once again

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 | 5:44 am

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CMHC reports a major uptick in new construction for January

By Kathy Michaels

The kickoff to a new decade has brought with it an upswing in new construction.

Housing starts totaled 161 in January, up from 17 a year ago, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s market analyst, Paul Fabri.

“Rental construction boosted January housing starts,” explained Fabri.  Construction began on two rental apartment projects totaling 111 units.  Last year’s fourth quarter upswing in detached home construction carried over into 2010.

Detached home starts were more than double the level recorded in January 2009.

“We’re at a transition point,” said Mission Group principle Randy Shier, of where developers of both large and small projects stand today.

“There are builders and developers who are starting some new products… however there are still some developers who have challenges and have to sell inventory and may not move forward. ”

Among those who are moving forward with new projects are the Mission Group and Dilworth Homes, while single family developments in Kettle Valley and Glenmore are also underway.

“For real estate, some people look at this economic cycle as the worst ever, but for real estate it’s not,” said Shier.

By his estimates,  ‘81 and ‘82 were far worse, as consumers daunted by interest rates as high as 20 per cent stayed out of the market while developers who took on the debt struggled to stay afloat.

“Many went bankrupt and lost everything—developers and land owners—it was horrendous times for real estate,” he said.

“Anybody involved in the real estate industry has to understand the market works in cycles. It goes up and down and it always will.”

While the industry is currently in transition, Shier predicts the year ahead to be one where stability is sought.

“In some sectors in some parts of the market we are seeing steady demand,” he said.

“I think I am very optimistive for 2010, it will be a good year for sales and for people to purchase a condo, townhome or single family, low interest rates, good value and good selection.”

Nationally, December housing starts increased to 186,300 units, seasonally adjusted at annual rates, from 176,100 units in December.   Starts were up in six of ten provinces.   In urban British Columbia, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts rose to 24,800 units in January from 20,700 units  the previous month.  Both the detached home multi-family sectors recorded an increase.

kathy@kelowna.com

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