TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian housing starts fell 18.8 percent in November to the lowest annual rate in seven years, led by a drop in the construction of multiple dwelling units, a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. report showed on Monday.
Housing starts dropped to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 172,000 units from 211,800 units in October, CMHC said.
Analysts had forecast an annualized rate of 195,000 starts in November.
The annual rate was the lowest in seven years, according to economists at Scotia Capital, who said builders were slowing their new construction as the inventory of unsold homes swells.
Urban multiple home starts slumped 29.1 percent to an annual rate of 81,700 units from 115,300 units in October. Urban single-home starts fell 9 percent to 63,100 units.
Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 27,200 units in November
CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan said the figures were "consistent" with the agency's forecast that new home construction would moderate this year to 212,000 units. The agency expects new home construction to slip to 178,000 unit in 2009.
* Canada Mortgage and Housing report for November here
Editing by Tom Hals