While builders continue to report they are facing problems obtaining lumber and other building materials, you can add appliances to that list.
In a February survey for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, builders were asked if they had experienced difficulty obtaining appliances in a timely fashion over the past six months. Nearly 90% of the builders said yes —51% to a major extent and 38% to a minor extent.
Though the survey didn’t ask for more information about the nature of the difficulty, one builder wrote in that his appliances had been on backorder for months.
Although the appliance problem is clearly affecting builders of all sizes, it is not not quite as ubiquitous among smaller builders. "Only" 82% of builders who built fewer than six homes last year reported trouble getting appliances in a timely fashion—compared to at least 90% of builders in the three larger size tiers.
Although only a third of new single-family homes come with clothes washers and clothes dryers (according to the 2017 reports from the Annual Builder Practices Survey conducted by Home Innovation Research Labs), the percentages are much higher for standard kitchen appliances, which are often designed and marketed as an integral part of the space.
According to the same survey report, builders provide refrigerators in two-thirds of their single-family homes, garbage disposals in 85%, microwaves in 88%, dishwashers in 93%, and some combination of range/cooktop/wall oven in 97%. So when these appliances are not available as usual, large proportions of new home completions and closings are affected.
The shortage of appliances is also likely to be affecting the residential remodeling market, as kitchen renovation has long been one of the most common types of remodeling projects.
NAHB senior economist Paul Emrath provides further analysis in this Eye on Housing blog post.