Talking Points: Addressing the Supply Chain Crisis
Members and HBAs can use these talking points in their outreach with policymakers and local media to help communicate the urgent need to act on lumber volatility and supply chain issues.
- Resolving lumber and other building material supply chain bottlenecks is the top priority for the home building industry and we have taken our concerns to the highest levels of government.
- With lumber prices rising rapidly since late August 2021, NAHB has taken the following actions:
- More than 10,000 NAHB members signed a letter that was sent to Biden warning of a housing crisis and urging action to alleviate supply issues.
- NAHB Chairman Jerry Konter met with White House officials and urged them to end the lumber tariffs and increase domestic production of lumber.
- At the behest of NAHB, 84 members of Congress sent a joint letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in late December 2021 expressing urgent concern regarding the Commerce Department’s recent decision to double tariffs on softwood lumber products from Canada.
- NAHB leaders met with top Canadian officials at the Canadian embassy in Washington in December to discuss key softwood lumber issues, including the urgent need to restart negotiations on a new softwood lumber agreement that would end tariffs.
- NAHB sent a letter to President Biden on Dec. 3 calling on the White House to combat high lumber prices by engaging with Canada on a new softwood lumber agreement and increasing domestic lumber production.
- NAHB Immediate Past Chairman Chuck Fowke testified before Congress on building material supply chain disruptions and called on the Biden administration and lawmakers to take immediate action by:
- Temporarily removing tariffs on Canadian lumber and other imported building materials, including steel and aluminum from China;
- Alleviating bottlenecks at seaports that are preventing goods and materials from getting to market; and
- Seeking solutions to persistent delays in truck and rail transportation to ease mass shortages that are putting upward pressure on material and home prices.
- The price hikes are not limited to just lumber: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index, the average price of goods used as inputs to residential construction has risen three times faster than the rate of core inflation throughout 2021.
- From steel mill products and plastic piping to copper pipe and wood windows and doors, prices are up dramatically year-to-date and are exacerbating the growing housing affordability crisis.
- Small home building firms are particularly threatened by the current situation.
Latest Lumber Price Wave Adds $18,600 to the Price of a Home
- Between August 2021 and March 2022, lumber prices nearly tripled, causing real hardship for home builders and home buyers alike.
- As a result of this latest surge, the price of an average new single-family home has increased by more than $18,600, according to NAHB standard estimates of lumber used to build the average home.
- This lumber price hike has also added nearly $7,300 to the market value of the average new multifamily home, which translates into households paying $67 a month more to rent a new apartment.
Why Lumber Prices Have Surged
- The unprecedented price volatility in the lumber market dates back to April 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and sawmills curtailed production in anticipation of reduced demand.
- When it became clear in the ensuing months that housing weathered the storm much better than predicted and demand remained strong, lumber mills did not ramp up production accordingly.
- The slow reaction by sawmills, combined with a massive uptick in demand from do-it-yourselfers and big-box retailers during the pandemic resulted in lumber prices peaking at a record-shattering $1,500 per thousand board feet in May 2021, before beginning a gradual decline through late August.
- This most recent lumber price upsurge is due to a number of factors, including:
- Ongoing supply chain disruptions
- A doubling of tariffs on Canadian lumber imports into the U.S. market that increased price volatility
- An unusually strong summer wildfire season in the western United States and British Columbia
- The home building industry will continue to call on the administration and Congress to make it a priority to address lumber and building material issues that are contributing to price volatility and harming housing affordability.
- We will explore all avenues in order to find solutions that will ensure a lasting and stable supply of lumber and other building materials for the home building industry at competitive prices.
- To learn more about the industry’s response to this crisis, visit nahb.org/supplychain.