Lumber prices declining from historic highs seen during pandemic

Lumber prices are down from the historic highs buyers saw during the pandemic.
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 7:29 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - There’s good news for people who are starting to build a house or have plans for a summer project: lumber prices are down from the historic highs buyers saw during the pandemic.

Among rising prices in other industries for consumers, relief is on the way for home builders and anyone planning projects that require lumber.

In May of 2021, lumber costs peaked with prices nearly four times higher than what was seen before the pandemic. Since then, some lumber products have seen a price drop of 70%.

The Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association has seen faster construction rates in the past few months, which can be attributed to increased lumber stock and more affordable prices.

“We’re now seeing those timelines shrink drastically to where we’re able to get back into a six-month to eight-month build process. During the pandemic, we were stretched out anywhere from almost 12 to 14 months on a basic house,” said Cameron Moore, executive officer of Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builder Association.

Building a new home is still quite expensive right now, but I’m told the benefits of falling lumber prices are a good sign for the future.

With high prices, walking into home improvement stores to find empty lumber racks or eye-watering prices has been a headache.

The spike in department stores was caused by reduced production and increased home projects during the last few years, which cost people building a new home $14,000 more than usual.

Building material stores aren’t seeing a noticeable difference yet in the lower prices, but it won’t be long before it impacts them. However, a major part of the price drop isn’t entirely due to increased production or a lack of demand, but it comes down to something you may not think about.

“It’s the cost of the shipping of the goods, the container costs. You can look back on container cost being $20,000, to container during COVID. And now they’re about $4,000 of containers. So it’s definitely going to play an impact on the pricing and cause some relief,” said Brian Flynn, manager at Home Outlet.

Lumber prices may be coming down, but other essential homebuilding materials, such as drywall, concrete and metal remain at higher prices. Only time will tell when other building materials will start winding down in price.