Lumber prices skyrocket as demand rises and supply goes down
SPOKANE, Wash. — This pandemic has forced a lot of changes in our lives. It’s also forced us to maybe work on the unfinished deck at your house or build a backyard gazebo. If you plan on doing any DIY projects, prepare to pay more for lumber.
The National Association of Homebuilders reported this month that lumber prices increased 14.9% in August.
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This didn’t stop two best friends from buying a home to flip in Spokane.
“Probably about six months ago, me and my best friend bought this house just to kinda get our door into new construction, or getting into new construction,” said Walker Nash.
He said they’ve never flipped a house before, so Nash and Micah Galbreath didn’t know what to expect to pay for lumber until they bought some.
“I would say probably [spent] around five grand,” Nash said. “Maybe a little bit more than what I thought.”
Discount Lumber owner Mark Gatlin said business was picking up when the pandemic forced the state to shut down. They were deemed essential. With that came a rise in lumber prices.
Gatlin said a 2×4 normally runs around $2.50. Now, expect to pay nearly $6. OSB wood panels typically go for $8. Gatlin said they’re up to $29. He believes one of the reasons supply is low and prices are higher is because lumber mills closed during the shut down.
“So they had 2-3 weeks and the time that they would be producing material for the upcoming building season went to just not knowing what to do and probably shut down,” Gatlin explained.
He thinks there are several other factors like trucking issues, wildfires forcing loggers out of the woods and more.
However, it’s also about who’s buying the lumber.
“A lot of your do-it-yourselfers,” Gatlin said. “A lot of the do-it-yourselfer market that we hadn’t had in the past.”
He said contractors still come into his store, but has seen an increase in people looking to do DIY projects.
“Why not go to the lumber yard or hardware store and fix up your home or your yard or whatever as long as you’re there,” Gatlin said.
Gatlin said he got lucky and had a lot of lumber on hand. Inventory started to decrease when it got busier.
“Treated lumber got super short,” he explained. “Fencing got super short because it was just getting bought up everywhere.”
Nash said he hasn’t had too much trouble finding wood, unless it’s a special size and kind.
As far as when prices will go down, Gatlin said it’s not clear.
“I think prices are going to go down a little bit,” he said. “I don’t expect a huge just drop off. There’s just not enough supply.”
For Nash and Galbreath, they said they don’t regret buying the house when they did. Nash said the pandemic isn’t going to stop them from a future in the construction or real estate business.
“It can be a little stressful but it’s worth it,” Nash said. “Don’t regret it at all.”
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