The last few months have seen a continued lag of completions and an increasing amount of starts and under construction volume. Completions, as expected, are trending upwards. As 2012 progresses we should anticipate an eventual increase in completions, though it may not show up until the later months of the year given the high mix of multi-unit construction that tend to have longer build times.
Here is a breakdown of the new persons per bedroom start and completion, assuming 4 bedrooms per detached and 1.6 bedrooms per multi. The higher the number the more population growth there is per start/completion and this would tend to lead to higher unit absorption. In contrast a lower value would mean less absorption. As we can see Vancouver new persons per bedroom-start continues to trend lower once again, in part due to lower population growth of late.
One of the risks facing Vancouver and BC is a continued below-trend population growth due in part to unemployment differentials with other parts of the country, in turn wrought by over-investment, particularly in residential structures. If this event occurs, one need only refer to the early 2000s to see the starts and completions are likely to head, and what that would mean for construction employment and BC's GDP growth.
Should population growth remain subdued, resulting lower GDP growth of future years would, in my view, be most reasonably attributed to previous investment excesses, not then current conditions. Something to keep in mind.