Nationwide lumber shortage causes prices to nearly triple, experts say

KENNEWICK, Wash. — If you’ve been to a Home Depot or a Lowe’s lately, you might have noticed that the prices on lumber have increased. That’s due to a nationwide shortage brought on by the pandemic.

Experts say it’s a classic case of supply versus demand.

“The lumber industry, part of the scarcity is that during the pandemic, a lot of people decided to do home improvement things and there was a lot of projects and a surge in demand for lumber,” said Gretl Crawford, a builder, and owner of Gretl Crawford Homes.

For Crawford, the shortage has made it “extremely difficult to operate within the new construction industry.”

She focuses on custom homes and without the resources to build, the business is almost “at a standstill.”

“We can’t really do what we typically do because the prices are so erratic that it almost makes it not even worth attempting to go forward because it changes on a day-to-day basis,” Crawford said.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), “soaring lumber prices that have tripled over the past 12 months have caused the price of an average new single-family home to increase” by nearly $36,000 dollars.

Between April 2020 and April 2021 the price per thousand board feet went from $350 dollars to $1200, a nearly 250-percent increase, the NABH said.

“What would have been a $300,000 dollar new construction house, which a year and a half ago was absolutely doable with people buying them all the time, now you’re talking about everything going up,” said April Connors, a real estate agent with Windermere. “Those $300,000 dollar homes are now $350,000 dollars.”

Connors noted that besides lumber, there’s a shortage of “everything.”

“There are shortages in pieces of electrical wire, plumbing fixtures, appliances, so many things right now,” Connors said. “It’s affecting the overall amount that a home will cost.”

Connors added that the shortages not only affect new construction but also resell homes.

“We’re seeing a huge increase in the price of reselling homes in the resell market because the new construction isn’t available,” Connors said.

Experts said that prices might not return to what they were pre-pandemic until 2023.