On Lumber, Trump is Listening

Filed in Material Costs, Multifamily by on June 1, 2018 5 Comments

photo of Trump lumber tweetThe White House is listening to NAHB and the drumbeat of American home builders seeking solutions to the industry’s most pressing issue: Soaring lumber prices are making new homes cost too much, and it’s time for relief.

In an early morning tweet on Friday, President Trump laid out the issues, calling on Canada to “open their markets and take down their trade barriers” while also referencing the timber and lumber trade. NAHB has found that the disruption in the softwood lumber trade with Canada is a key factor in the historically high prices of lumber.

NAHB thanked the president in a tweeted reply: “Lumber prices hurt housing affordability and erode tax reform benefits. Let’s increase domestic production AND get a fair deal with Canada. We can protect the American Dream of homeownership with your leadership.”

Recent NAHB surveys suggest the price for lumber has overtaken the availability of labor as the primary business challenge for home builders.

Since the beginning of last year, rising lumber prices have added nearly $9,000 to the price of a typical new home and more than $3,000 to the price of a typical multifamily unit.

NAHB CEO Jerry Howard met with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in April to urge him to work with his Canadian counterparts to reach a long-term solution to the trade dispute that is equitable to both sides. During May’s executive board meeting, NAHB leaders hammered home the importance of lumber prices in a series of meetings with Administration officials, including Vice President Pence and HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

And in a significant demonstration of the power of the grass roots, NAHB members have written hundreds of letters, called and visited members of Congress as well as the White House to ensure the voices of reason – and housing affordability – are heard.

NAHB’s efforts are beginning to see payback, demonstrating the power of a united trade association.

“I’m proud, and also humbled, by the work of our Builder and Associate members all over the country who answered our call to action,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel. “We are the voice of future home buyers, and we have a duty to do everything we can to make sure their homes are affordable.”


Comments (5)

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  1. John Bitely says:

    Sounds like milk is still the key to getting timber trade fixed to me. Canada won’t let our milk into their country so USA isn’t letting lumber in without a tariff. In this case it just so happens we need their lumber more than they need or want our milk……….

    • CT says:

      What makes you think that? It seems to me that it’s always been about Canada’s de facto subsidizing lumber exports (which is strongly frowned upon by the free trade community) by operating state run forests at a loss.

      • J Moore says:

        How do you run a state-run forest at a loss? Only 6% of Canadian forest is owned by the federal gov’t. 90% is owned by the various provinces and municipalities. Only 6% is privately owned. The provinces don’t operate their forests at a loss as they have no national interest to do so. They look at the income from their forest development right sales and associated economic impact, selling to the highest bidder. That is free trade. To call the sales prices “subsidized” is deceptive. Canada has much more high grade timber to sell and a much smaller market to sell it to. They are naturally going to sell for less than US private owners.

        • Brettb740 says:

          J Moore,
          Hello, thanks for your post. Canadian mills are subsidized because nearly all of the timber they harvest is located on public land. Inversely, nearly all of the timber in the US is harvested on private lands. The land Canadian mills don’t have to buy/lease represents their subsidy. US mills buy/lease land for timber growth and harvest. As with any markets, when a government subsidizes a particular industry to artificially lower prices, tariffs are charged to protect jobs in the nation products are shipped to.

  2. Michael Kurpiel says:

    President Trump tweets on lumber, yes. He asks a question about domestic production. Questions that needs his answers. It’s getting bad out there folks, and housing is feeling the pain.

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