Survey: Building material shortage could dampen housing recovery

According to recent surveys by the National Association of Home Builders and the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, home builders and lumber dealers are experiencing significant shortages in building materials, a supply constraint that threatens to hamper recent gains in the housing market recovery.

This report comes amid promising May figures for existing-home sales, though the National Association of Realtors cautioned that new home construction rates will not satisfy the growing demand for sales for very long.

Lumber dealers were hit by supply shortages the hardest, with 36% reporting shortages of framing lumber, 27% to 28% reporting shortages of oriented strand board and plywood, and 12% lacking wall board. 

Oriented strand board was the biggest problem area for builders (22%), with 20% lacking wall board and 18% experiencing a shortfall in both framing lumber and plywood.

"Supply constraints are one of the barriers to a more robust recovery," said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. "The shortages and price increases reported by both home builders and lumber dealers are particularly concerning given that the current rate of construction is still far below what would be considered normal or necessary to meet underlying demand."

According to Crowe, the shortages are not as high as they were in 2004 or 2005, but the numbers last month were considerably higher than they were in 2012 or 2011.

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