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Lumber prices starting to become affordable again, after reaching exponential highs

Posted at 8:46 PM, Jul 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-05 22:52:24-04

BRYAN, TEXAS — Similarly to any other industry over the last year and a half, the lumber industry saw historic highs and lofty lows, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Those in the industry say now is a good time to check and see what that remodel might cost you, if you've been on the fence.

Good news is lumber is getting more affordable, but bad news... like anything else, it's always subject to change.

"Lumber inventories are back to normal," Stu Chapman, a Buyer with Woodson Lumber Company said. "Supply and demand...we finally caught up with mill inventories. They finally reached a good level where the supply is not under-pacing the demand."

Chapman says lumber prices fell all at once when the pandemic first started and when people started taking up their home projects and with the lapse of inventory in the market, prices began to soar.

"A lot of this started at the start of the pandemic. Lumber prices fell all at once. Everybody decided they were going to put up a new fence or a porch remodel they had been talking about. It took a lot of inventory out of the marketplace all at once and that led to the beginning of the prices going through the roof. They could never catch up with the demand that started all of that," Chapman added.

For Woodson Lumber Company, a family-owned business in the Brazos Valley and throughout Central Texas and with over a hundred years in business, they say the pandemic run-up in prices is something they've never seen before.

"With the fall through the floor right when the pandemic started in the United States, to currently, no, we've have never seen anything like it currently. We've got guys that have been buying for 40 years and say they have never seen anything like this," Chapman added.

And now they are starting to see those once soaring prices, make their way back down.

"It's finally getting to the affordable level. So your homeowner can finally start affording a little bit of wood to work around their house with. We have seen a major drop off in our retail business, just your walk-in customers. When lumber starts to finally come back down we are happy to see we can finally get some of that business back," Chapman said. "We saw prices going up 100-200% in some species... We are finally starting to see that come off, which is good. There is a lot more availability of lumber to be bought right now."

Chapman says things are getting back in line with what folks can afford.

"I'm happy to see lumber prices getting to where they outta be. It ratcheted up there so quick. Not everybody knew what to do with that. We saw alot of people go to the sidelines that would have been building. So it's nice to see now everybody can come back to the marketplace," Chapman said.

As a non-profit builder, Habitat for Humanity says they are still feeling the punch of pandemic above-average costs, but are thankful those numbers aren't where they were just weeks ago.

"Just looking at the highest point in June was $1,670 dollars per 1,000 ft board, which is the highest its been, but you are still looking at a 40% decrease. It's $700 per 1,000ft. For comparison, this time last year, it was only $422 per 1,000ft," Aaron Shipp, Director of Construction for BCS Habitat for Humanity said.

Shipp says they are going to keep building no-matter what, they are just being methodical about their choices.

"Certain items are coming down, which is great. I don't think they [prices] are going to tumble as fast as they rose and I don't think we are going to get back to a normal price point that what we are used to," Shipp said. "But building into our future planning, especially our 5 year long term planning, building in some form of cash-reserve that if something like this were to happen again we can still continue to weather that storm."

Shipp says they continue to serve their mission with open arms and hearts. Just in the last few months, they started two new homes and also completed one.

"At the end of the day this job isn't necessarily about us or the environment that we are in, we are here to serve our families and keeping that awareness in play is just as critical as monitoring the bottom line," Shipp said.

Chapman says pricing for certain items, like cedar, remain high, but general construction lumber is what is seeing pricing come down.