Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for May 16, 2014
*Western – regional species perimeter foundation; Southern – regional species slab construction.
Crow’s Market Recap — A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow’s Weekly Market Report.
Lumber: Demand for SPF lumber was not as strong as in the previous couple of weeks. Futures contracts showed losses prior to Thursday’s expiration of the May contract, which created some hesitation in the cash market. Buyers continued to purchase significant volumes of Southern Pine lumber but with a large amount of caution. Good takeaways from yards kept distributors and retailers coming back into the market to purchase more. Moderate sales activity was enough to keep most Coastal species dimension lumber items at, or very near, their prices from the week prior. Green Doug Fir producers had to reduce prices of a few items to move volumes. Inland species lumber traders lamented a market in which they often cannot find the tally and/or the shipment time they need in order to consummate a deal. Mill order files out several weeks for certain lengths forced dealers to turn to distribution. Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr continued to sell easily at published levels or sometimes slightly higher. A few sales of #2 Shop were reported at prices above published levels. Buyers reported having no difficulty finding most of what they needed, but Ponderosa Pine 5/4 P99 was a little harder to acquire and the prices moved up $5. A slower but still steady market was reported for Ponderosa Pine boards. Light inventories that matched demand kept producers in the driver’s seat. Eastern White Pine producers reported improving business in the Northeast. An active sales week for ESLP boards moved prices up for #2&Btr, as well as #3 and #4. Most producers reported a steady sales pace in the Western Red Cedar market, as customers came back in to fill in inventory holes. Prices for dimension and timber items continued to increase.
Panels: Sales activity was quiet in all OSB regions. Mill order files into mid-June, in some cases, were beyond many buyers’ comfort levels. Secondaries concentrated on selling contract loads or previously purchased loads. Much of it sold at $5 to $10 below replacement costs. A modest sales pace in the Southern Pine plywood market kept most prices near prior levels but firm. Buyers continued to digest previous purchases and replenished with moderate volumes when necessary. Wholesalers bought sparingly and continued to sell contract volumes and from dwindling long positions. Many Western Fir plywood buyers remained on the sidelines, digesting previous purchases. Wholesalers also reported a slower pace to their sales and sold sheathing at levels around $10 less than what mills asked. Canadian plywood producers reported steady inquiries and sales. Improving weather, Quebec road restrictions being lifted, and a long Victoria Day weekend, all helped encourage buyers to cover their needs. Particleboard producers in the Southeast reported steady sales and few issues regarding selling a week’s worth of production. A few mills noted a slightly slower pace to MDF sales.
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Ty Pennington signs new endorsement deal
Television home improvement star Ty Pennington will promote Lapolla Industries’ foam insulation products in upcoming national and local campaigns.
He will also make appearances at international trade shows and participate in consumer events, media relations and social media activities on behalf of the Houston-based maker of polyurethane foam insulation, reflective roof coating and equipment.
“Ty Pennington is one of the most trusted names and faces in home improvement and renovation,” said Doug Kramer, president and CEO of Lapolla Industries. “We view our partnership with Ty as an opportunity to reach a broader audience to educate them on the importance and value of spray foam insulation.”
Pennington, best known for his role in “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” said: “By teaming up with Lapolla, we have an opportunity to build awareness about the importance of proper insulation to create significant energy savings to the entire residential market.”
Anticipating the course of pent-up demand
The residential remodeling and replacement market kept many companies in the home and building industry in business during the past few years. Now, even as new home builds rebound in many markets, the evidence suggests the remodeling market will continue to flourish.
Our research partner, The Farnsworth Group, collaborated with The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University to investigate the dynamics driving the remodeling market. They forecasted future activity trends while considering key factors, including the current housing stock, changing demographics, the economics and emotions of demand, and the current market structure and forecast.
Leading indicators for growth in the remodeling market are almost universally accelerating, and a decided increase in that pace is predicted for the third quarter of this year. Brad Farnsworth, whose company investigates remodeling market drivers, is confident the growth will continue into the foreseeable future. In fact, double-digit growth is expected to continue for the entire year, and some economists project double-digit growth beyond this year.
Some of this growth will be discretionary, which is not too surprising considering research the past few years has revealed considerable pent-up consumer demand. Much of the future activity may not be by choice, though, as the existing housing stock has aged considerably in recent years. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “American Housing Survey” indicates that only 27% of homes were at least 40 years old in 1985; but now, more than 40% of homes are at least 40 years old.
For marketers, it may make sense to focus on the markets in which older housing stocks exist. In fact, various studies suggest that 80% of forecasted residential remodeling and replacement activity is expected to occur in about 20% of the U.S. markets. In addition, about half of all remodeling and replacement activity is driven by just more than 20% of the households in the U.S. These households spend a higher share on discretionary updates, and in markets where the housing stock is older, nondiscretionary activity is also high.
Who are these households? About two in every five replacement and remodeling projects in the U.S. are completed by households aged 55-plus. These homeowners spend for several reasons, including retrofitting to accommodate their changing needs, making alterations to improve things like energy efficiency and costs, improvements to gain more enjoyment from their home, and making required repairs to aging homes. Meanwhile, millennials are adding additional, sustainable momentum. Recent research reveals that millennials, a group 7% percent larger than baby boomers, often prefer to purchase older homes. In fact, the average age of homes purchased by millennials last year was 27 years.
Some of the factors impacting millennial purchases of older homes include:
- Student loan debt, which can impact the amount they can borrow; less expensive, older homes often are more viable.
- The choice to live in urban or central cities where there is limited new housing stock.
- Preference for a fixer-upper home (almost a third of millennials prefer fixer-uppers to a house that needed minimal repairs, according to a Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate report).
Much has been written on the differences in marketing to boomers versus millennials. While the desire to own a home may be propelled by many of the same emotional drivers across generations, millennials move through the purchase cycle differently than their predecessors. Millennials are much more likely than other generations to get information from a range of media platforms, including social media. They are also more likely to turn to their peers’ opinions of products and services before other research options.
The future for remodeling looks very bright. Knowing why consumers remodel, where the remodeling will occur and who will make the decisions could make the future even brighter for those serving the industry.
Kent Panther is senior VP strategic planning for Charlotte, N.C.-based marketing firm Wray Ward. Contact him at [email protected].