So far, shortages regarding materials haven’t been an issue in the single-family housing industry, but a report from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says that’s starting to change.
In May 2017’s survey for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, 21 percent of single-family builders said there was a shortage in framing lumber. Though it isn’t quite that of the lot and labor shortage, it could be well on its way. Since 2014, no product or material was cited as being more in short supply by more than 15 percent of builders. For most building materials, that is still the case.
In the top 5, cement and cabinets are reported as being in short supply by 13 percent of builders, trusses and ready-mix concrete are reported as being in short supply by 14 percent, and coming in at number one, framing lumber at an already stated 21 percent.
According to NAHB, nearly all of these materials and products have been relatively stable, only moving a few percentage points in the last three years. The only exception? Again, framing lumber. The supply of lumber in 2013 looked as though it was beginning to become a problem. However, it subsided when only 8 percent of builders in July 2014 said it was in short supply. In July 2015, the story was very much the same coming in at 7 percent. In the last two years, it’s more than doubled, which is a post-recession high. The last time NAHB saw these numbers, it was October 2004, a time when the annual rate of housing starts was right around 2.0 million, which is almost a million more than the current rate of 1.1 million.
Softwood lumber has increased in price consistently with the shortage reporting. NAHB said its virtually certain the underlying factor for this is the ongoing limber trade dispute going on between the U.S. and Canada as duties on lumber imported from Canada have been levied by the Department of Commerce in 2017.