Home Builder Lumber Shortage Growing in U.S.

Home Builder Lumber Shortage Growing in U.S.

Residential News » Tampa Edition | By Michael Gerrity | July 13, 2017 8:00 AM ET

According to the May 2017 survey for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, availability of building materials, especially framing lumber is rising on the list of home builder concerns. The results revealed that 21 percent of single-family builder respondents reported a shortage of framing lumber.

"It is certainly concerning that we have seen such a large jump in reported framing lumber shortages in a relatively short period of time," said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. "The rising reports of shortages along with the recent increases in softwood lumber prices, can almost certainly be related to the ongoing softwood lumber trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada."

This is a striking jump from 2014 when no product or material was cited as being in short supply by more than 15 percent of builders. In fact, this remained true for most other materials in the 2017 survey. Next to framing lumber, the most widespread shortages reported in 2017 were ready-mix concrete and trusses, with 14 percent of builders reporting shortages of each.

While other building materials have remained fairly stable, framing lumber has been the notable exception. Only eight percent of builders reported a framing lumber shortage in July of 2014, but that share more than doubled in May of 2017, to 21 percent--a post-housing recession high. The last time framing lumber shortages were as widespread was in October of 2004, at a time when the annual rate of housing starts was around 2 million, compared to the current rate of about 1.1 million.

"Lumber is a major component in new home construction, and it is critical that we continue to have a sufficient and fairly priced supply to keep up with housing demand," said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald. "These reports of framing lumber shortages and rising prices only harm housing affordability and price countless American households out of the housing market."

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