The National Association of Home Builders chairman Granger MacDonald issued the following statement in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and its potential effects on lumber prices as Gulf Coast residents prepare to rebuild after the catastrophic storm.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of my great state of Texas and our friends in Louisiana as they suffer through the extreme flooding and other damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. Yet even as they cope with the immediate effects of the disaster, many are already looking to the future and the long rebuilding process ahead.
"In the aftermath of the devastating storm, demand for softwood lumber is expected to increase dramatically as home builders and remodelers repair and replace housing in Houston and across Texas. This crisis makes it more important than ever that the United States quickly achieve a lasting trade agreement regarding U.S. imports of Canadian softwood lumber.
"NAHB applauds Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' decision to postpone application of duties on Canadian softwood lumber. The delay will give the parties time to seek a negotiated solution. This is important because tariffs - basically just a tax on consumers - will be felt most harshly by families trying to rebuild. And lumber prices will rise even more as flooding in Texas and Louisiana constrains timber harvests there.
"We need a more permanent solution. That why we're calling on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue to work collaboratively to open more public lands for domestic timber production. This is the most straightforward way to diminish reliance on imported lumber and to meet demand as Texas and Louisiana look to rebuild."
52 percent of residential and commercial properties in the Houston metro are at "High" or "Moderate" risk of flooding, but are not in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) as identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department, nationwide housing starts fell 4.8 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.16 million units.
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) released this week, rising U.S. home prices offset a quarter-point drop in mortgage interest rates to move housing affordability slightly lower in the second quarter of 2017.