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ArlingtonNew homes costing more? Blame lumber prices

New homes costing more? Blame lumber prices

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Soaring lumber prices are adding thousands of dollars to the cost of a new home, pricing out millions of potential home buyers and impeding the residential-construction sector from moving the economy forward, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

“According to Random Lengths, the price of lumber . . . is up more than 170 percent over the past 10 months,” said NAHB chairman Chuck Fowke, a custom builder from Tampa.

Lumber-price spikes are not only sidelining buyers during a period of high demand, they are causing many sales to fall through and forcing builders to put projects on hold at a time when home inventories are already at a record low.

“The increase in lumber prices is forcing our company to delay construction starts, which will only exacerbate the lack of supply in our market,” said NAHB first vice chairman Jerry Konter, a builder and developer from Savannah.

Alicia Huey, a high-end custom homebuilder from Birmingham, Ala., and second vice chairman of NAHB, said that the price of her lumber framing package on an identically-sized home has more than doubled over the past year, from $35,000 to $71,000.

“This increase has definitely hurt my business,” she said. “I’ve had to absorb much of this added cost and even put some construction on hold, because I would be losing money by moving forward.”

“Appraisers are not taking rising lumber costs into account, which is disrupting home sales and preventing closings,” added NAHB third vice chairman Carl Harris, a custom builder from Wichita, Kan.

NAHB is asking federal lawmakers to urge domestic lumber producers to ramp up production to ease growing shortages, and to make it a priority to end tariffs on Canadian lumber shipments into the U.S.

“Clearly these price increases are unsustainable, particularly in light of a continued housing-affordability crisis,” said Fowke. “The Commerce Department should be investigating why output from lumber producers and lumber mills are at such low levels.”

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