OTTAWA -- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says housing starts slipped sharply in January.

The agency says there were 9,904 actual starts last month, compared with 13,038 in January 2012.

Extrapolating that figure over 12 months and smoothing out monthly variations produces a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 160,577 starts in January, down from 197,118 in December.

Urban starts decreased by 22.3 per cent in January to 138,134 units on the seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Single urban starts fell by 11.2 per cent to 59,318 units and multiple urban starts decreased by 28.9 per cent to 78,816 units.

On the adjusted annual basis, rates of urban starts were down 43.9 per cent in Ontario and 29.6 per cent in Quebec, while they were 59.4 per cent higher in Atlantic Canada and 7.7 per cent higher in British Columbia.