The lumber inflation bubble has popped, but why do prices remain high?

Lumber
Photo credit GettyImages
By , KRLD

Since the pandemic began, more Americans have opted to build new homes, as homeowners have been cautious about selling. Because of this, lumber prices have soared above their pre-pandemic levels.

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A report from Fortune found that the price of lumber has soared to 300% above its pre-pandemic price tag, making it harder for home builders and DIYers.

However, in recent weeks the price of lumber has dropped from its springtime highs. This has been a good sign for those trying to build new homes as lumber is typically one of the highest costs, along with land acquisition and labor.

In Minnesota, Sunny Bowman, the president and owner of Dakota County Lumber in Farmington, has seen the prices rise first hand.

"All of the specialty goods, which are 50 percent of our business ... all that has a manufacturing component to it and is not a straight commodity, has gone up and stayed up," Bowman told the Star Tribune.

Special order decking, made-to-order windows and doors, engineered lumber, roof and floor trusses are among the specialty wood products that Bowman has seen an increase in demand and price.

Overall, inflation last month remained moderate, as the yearly inflation rate remains at 5.3% for the year, the highest it has been in over a decade.

Last month, reports showed that the price of softwood lumber fell by 28%, down by nearly half since May, the National Association of Home Builders reported.

While the pandemic saw home building hit an all-time high, the lumber market was already at record levels in 2019. The construction craze paused when shelter-in-place orders were given in the spring of 2020 but then picked back up with many going through home renovations.

When the economy began to recover from the pandemic, the prices for lumber soared to new levels, the Tribune reported.

The NAHB reported that the price volatility for softwood lumber had reached an all-time 12-month period high.

Along with the increase in lumber prices comes an increase in prices for other building materials. For example, products like ready-mix concrete have seen a rise of 4.7%, while steel product prices have nearly doubled.

David Siegel, the executive director of Housing First Minnesota, shared with the Tribune that getting supplies has become difficult.

"The supply chain in so many areas is really challenging right now. Steel has gone up, appliances have gone up," Siegel said. "It's a struggle right now. … So many pieces in the home building space have gone up in price."

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