Lawmakers want action on lumber prices and supply

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Lawmakers want action on lumber prices and supply

By HBSDealer Staff - 10/22/2020

The National Association of Home Builders reported that nearly 100 Republican and Democratic lawmakers have sent a letter to the White House regarding lumber prices and supply issues.

Sent on Oct. 20, the lawmakers are looking to take action against huge lumber prices spikes that are having a big impact on residential construction, along with economic recovery. 

“These sharp increases are challenging, especially in light of the ongoing housing affordability crisis,” the congressional letter states. “The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) estimates the recent spike in softwood lumber costs has caused the price of an average new single-family home to increase by $16,148 since April 17. The market value of the average new multifamily home has increased by $6,107 over the same period.”

The letter adds that housing can create jobs and boost the economy, but in order to do so, the rising cost of lumber and building materials must be addressed. 

Lawmakers are calling on President Trump’s “bring all stakeholders to the table and work to find a solution to address lumber scarcity and subsequent price spikes to ensure everyone’s needs are met.”

This is the latest action by the NAHB to urge Congress and the Trump administration to address lumber issues.

In August, the NAHB reported that the spike in lumber was adding more than $16,000 to the price of a new home, and has climbed to as much as a $17,000 increase in recent weeks. 

The end result is some builders having to take a hit on the price of a home that was agreed upon months prior to lumber hitting peak levels. In the meantime, LBM dealers have also tried to compensate on the price increases so they aren’t scaring off their pro customers.

In late September, representatives from the NAHB met virtually with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and discussed solutions. This includes a push to increase mill supplies and a new softwood lumber agreement that would end tariffs that are more than 20% on Canadian lumber shipments into the United States.

Previous action taken by the NAHB includes letters to Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and Zoltan van Heyningen, executive director of the U.S. Lumber Coalition, in an effort to address supply chain disruptions and tariffs. The NAHB also enlisted assistance from the White House.

The good news for home builders is a recent drop in lumber prices. 

After peaking at more than $950 per thousand board feet in mid-September, lumber price information provider Random Lengths reported that prices are just above $750 per thousand board feet. This marks a $200 per thousand board feet decline since hitting an all-time high in the previous month.

While lumber prices are down nearly 20% since mid-September, it wasn’t before a 120% spike since mid-April.