The Real Reason Lumber Prices Are Sky High and When It Could Come Back Down
We've all seen the memes and jokes on social media referencing the high prices of things like lumber. You know, the ones that make the association that one is livin' high on the hog if they can afford several sheets of plywood.
As with seemingly everything these days, there are those who simply believe that soaring lumber prices across America are political and should be attributed to the Democratic occupant of the White House.
Why are lumber prices so high?
However, simply put, the price climb began around March 2020. That was, of course, during the Trump presidency. But more significant, that was the beginning of the pandemic.
So, the conclusion can be drawn that the real reason lumber prices have gone up is due to the pandemic. But why?
Like many other products, lumber prices were affected by mills being forced to close or slow production. Add in pandemic home improvement projects, a few hurricanes, and the demand for lumber remains high while supply remains low, leading some experts to predict prices will remain high.
How much have lumber prices increased?
According to Business Insider, lumber prices have risen by more than 250% in the last year. The National Association of Homebuilders said the bump in cost has added more than $24,000 to the price of an average single-family home.
When you get a breakdown of the actual costs of wood, the numbers are quite staggering. The "price per thousand board feet" surpassed $1,100 in mid-April, up from less than $500 in June of 2020.
Bradford Gordon, the vice president of Moxham Lumber Company, says he's never seen anything like it. He says that last spring a standard two-by-four that sold for $3.39 now goes for $8.79 and a half-inch of plywood that sold for $15.99 can now sell for as much as $48.95.
The NAHB attributes the escalating lumber prices to "insufficient domestic production." And it's not like the NAHB hasn't tried to fight this spike in lumber prices.
According to its website, they've "reached out extensively to the Trump Administration, members of Congress and to lumber mills calling for prompt action to address supply shortages that were harming small businesses, home builders and ultimately, the overall economy," and they have continued to do so under the Biden administration.
When will prices come down?
Experts and those in the lumber industry have differing projections but generally feel that prices will drop by 2022.
Samuel Burman with Capital Economics, an economic research group, believes lumber prices will fall over the next 18 months. He believes the demand for lumber is expected to hold steadfast for some time but supply should rebound and the price of lumber should sharply decline by the end of 2022.
Why will prices drop on lumber?
Burman's firm has two reasons they believe the price should dip back down. They expect "domestic production to soar" and U.S. lumber imports to increase.
“For one, the progressive easing of quarantine measures should allow lumber mills to return to full capacity fairly soon,” Burman wrote. “In addition, the recent pick-up in hiring and higher trucker pay is likely to alleviate the current shortage of truck drivers, which should help resolve some of the logistical constraints.”
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