NAHB Conveys Urgent Concerns on Lumber with Commerce Secretary

Housing Affordability

NAHB Senior Officers and senior staff held a 30-minute virtual meeting with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Sept. 25 to discuss the growing problem that escalating lumber prices and supply shortages are having on the housing industry and economic recovery.

During the discussion with NAHB leaders, Ross repeatedly acknowledged how "critical" housing is to the U.S. economy.

NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke and Second Vice Chairman Jerry Konter told the secretary how higher costs are affecting their businesses, with Konter adding that his business is planning for reduced sales due to higher lumber costs.

According to Random Lengths, lumber prices have skyrocketed more than 170% since mid-April, and the residential construction industry has absorbed the largest four-month increase in lumber prices since such data was first recorded in 1949.

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz told Ross that this unprecedented lumber price spike has added more than $16,000 to the price of a typical new single-family home and $6,000 to the price of an average new multifamily unit.

Rising lumber prices are clearly making it much harder to build homes that are affordable to low- and moderate-income families.

NAHB Third Vice Chairman Alicia Huey and Immediate Past Chairman Greg Ugalde told the secretary what the association has heard from members about how the lumber crisis is hurting their businesses and impeding an even more robust housing upturn.

Secretary Ross told NAHB leaders that lumber mills are concerned that the ongoing housing upturn is temporary, and Dietz assured Ross that the solid housing market is sustainable.

NAHB stressed that between harvesting and mill capacities, the fact that most mills are running at two shifts rather than three is the greater problem.

View more NAHB actions on the lumber issue here.

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