NAHB Seeks White House Action on Soaring Lumber Prices

Filed in Advocacy, Housing Affordability, Trade by on August 13, 2020 31 Comments

New construction in progress on a homeNAHB sent a letter to President Trump expressing the housing industry’s growing concern and seeking prompt action regarding soaring lumber prices and supply shortages that are harming the housing sector and the economy.

NAHB is urging the White House to play a constructive role to alleviate this growing threat to housing and the economy by calling on domestic lumber producers to ramp up production to ease growing shortages and making it a priority to work with Canada on a new softwood lumber agreement that would end tariffs averaging more than 20% on Canadian lumber shipments into the United States.

As the nation fights to rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, housing has been a bright spot for the U.S. economy, particularly single-family construction, with permits running 3.4% higher during the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019.

However, builders are seeing shortages of lumber resulting in an 80% increase in lumber prices since mid-April. Framing lumber prices reached a record high in late July, while oriented strand board prices have increased 138% over the past year. These sharp increases are unsustainable, particularly in light of the housing affordability crisis.

NAHB’s letter to the White House stressed that housing can do its part to create jobs and lead the economy forward; but in order to do so, we need to address skyrocketing lumber prices and chronic shortages.

NAHB recently sent a similar message to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Zoltan van Heyningen, executive director of the U.S. Lumber Coalition.

View NAHB’s letter to President Trump.

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  1. Harris Woodward says:

    It should not be lost on anyone that this administration is entirely focused elsewhere, and will do little or nothing unless the action helps remove the GOP from political life support. Thanks for trying, though. At some point, NAHB needs to know when to hold and when to fold ’em. My money’s on folding, and getting behind new leadership. You don’t have to be an odds-maker to figure out which is the losing path.

  2. There is a simple solution. Use STEEL. The US mills are running at 60% capacity utilization and have mills idle.
    There are plenty of other solutions that creative people can do to make a statement.

  3. Issues over softwood lumber exports have been going on for years, however aluminum is what’s pissing Trudeau off right now. Canada is incensed that it is being targeted by a national security tariff. They want to know how a 10% tariff on aluminum contributes to its national security. Trump’s tariff is supported by only a couple of US firms. The dispute has triggered a new low in US-Canada trade.

  4. Dennis Parent says:

    I am a consulting forester representing small, private timberland owners. We have not seen decent log prices since 2006 and we always seem to be left out when people start “complaining” about the high lumber prices. Much of the timber harvested for lumber manufactured in the U.S. comes from these private forest lands. When do they get a break?

    • Jill McGlaughlin says:

      I concur! We are timberland owners in Mississippi and have been struggling with the low prices. We need more mills in the south to open back up.

    • Tucker Smith says:

      High lumber prices haven’t helped the wood suppliers (loggers) or landowners (who are harvesting and selling their trees). We’re on quota here in Texas, and our delivered rates have been dropping for months. So who’s making the money off of these high lumber prices? Why do they need to buy it from Canada when there are American loggers and sawmills struggling to stay afloat?

      • Bill Mathis says:

        Interested in your comment Tucker Smith. As and east Tn. Contractor my supplier has seen his price for 1/2in. OSB go up $1.00 every Friday for the past several weeks. As of 8-26 I’m paying $21 a sheet. That’s a $6 rise since mid July and their taking a lost at that price.
        Hard lumber is off the radar. 2×10’s cost more than 2×12’s. Their at 1.98 PLF. If their over 22ft. the price is 2.67plf. I’ve been doing this for 35+ years and NEVER seen this much of an increase and it appears there’s no end in sight.
        I drive by a Huber plant going to one of my house sites and there are 1000’s of logs on the yard every day with 1000’s of sheets covered under tarps. I’ve long suspected that the Fat Cats at the manufacturing end are squeezing the builders for all they can get using “supply and demand” as an excuse. And the loggers are getting a raw deal too.

  5. Mike Crews says:

    There are plenty of wood available from the US lands….These also bring jobs for rural people, income for land owners , Mill workers, truckers, etc,etc……I have a home and land in Ga, 1 he from ATL…..there is a GP ply Mill here that is closed…..these folks would love local jobs…… As a reference my home is on the market, 2500 SQ ft, recently remolded, most things new +7 ac…Its priced at $100 SQ ft, + land….and isn’t selling…..let’s keep our money and jobs at home in the US and let other countries worry about themselves….USA first.

  6. Peter Berube says:

    Just more corporate greed, just like we went through with oil and gas. Where is the lumber shortage ?. Building is at the same level it has been. These thieves should be put in jail. When was the last time you saw plywood jump $11.00 a sheet in one hike. $4.10 for an 8′ 2×4 ?. Can’t get pt lumber bunch of bullshit. Wheres the trade commision now.
    Land of the free ? I doubt it.

  7. Russ Wilson says:

    I think NAHB is pointing to the trade agreement as the main catalyst for high prices when in actuality, its only a small part of the problem. We need workers in mills producing. If whatever agreement Washington comes up with continues to pay people more to stay at home than they can make working, supply will not catch up to demand and prices will not turn around. I suppose we are attempting to be politically savvy by skirting that issue? (I’m not on either side, this is not meant to point support to one side versus the other)

  8. john Bitely says:

    all the mom and pop mills are pretty much gone due to the lase recession. Now we are stuck with about 3 big owners that own mills in Canada and the USA. They quit sawing during the Covid shut down. In my opinion they did it to make a shortage and drive up the prices. Big lumber mills are not friendly to the builders of this country………….. again my opinion.

  9. Dennis Tannen says:

    We are having a home built here in Utah and our builder sent us a link to look at that shows us the increased pricing on lumber. He says it will affect the pricing of our home. I asked him to check the availability of metal framing which I have seen used in many commercial projects. He’s checking it out.

  10. Vikki Dibble says:

    As someone who is getting ready to build a very green healthy home, our builder is using lumber which we support, however, I am most curious about any information that you learn about steel framing. We have not yet started our home in NC . By the way, the reason we are building is that we can get what we ant for LESS then any of the existing homes- the few that are on the market.

    • Debra Lombard says:

      google residential steel framing’s “faraday effect” . build with lumber or SIPS panels. Some SIPS panels have offgassing issues but some are better than others in regards to that. There is a Green Building association in North Carolina.
      Get in touch with them. Also investigate straw bale home construction if you have the additional room for a thicker wall.

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