Sen. Moran: Record-high Lumber Prices are Putting the American Dream of Home Ownership Out of Reach
May 12 2021
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding record-high lumber prices across the country, the impact these high prices are having on home builders and home buyers and solutions for decreasing the cost of lumber.
“Since last April, overall lumber prices are up over 300 percent,” said Sen. Moran. “Lumber and wood products account for roughly 15 percent of the construction cost for a single-family home. The reality is that record-high lumber prices are putting the American dream of home ownership just out of reach for hundreds of thousands of potential home buyers, and disproportionately harming middle- and low-income families across the country.”
Click HERE to Watch Sen. Moran’s Full Remarks
Remarks as prepared:
As we have seen across many industries, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted supply and demand for countless products in unexpected ways.
I come to the floor today to speak about the price of lumber, and the impact the soaring costs are having on home builders and home buyers.
Nationwide, construction for new homes is up 37 percent over last year, and up 87 percent in the Midwest. Rising demand for new home construction, as well as an upturn in do-it-yourself home projects during the pandemic, have rapidly driven up the cost of lumber.
As a result, since last April overall lumber prices are up over 300 percent. Lumber and wood products account for roughly 15 percent of the construction cost for a single-family home. Lumber accounts for the second largest overall cost of building a new home, only behind the cost of the land the home sits on.
These increases have resulted in a $36,000 increase in the price of a typical single-family home and a $13,000 increase in the market value of a multifamily unit.
The reality is that record-high lumber prices are putting the American dream of home ownership just out of reach for hundreds of thousands of potential home buyers, and disproportionately harming middle- and low-income families across the country.
At a time when residential home building is booming, it is essential that home builders and consumers have access to the materials they need at competitive prices.
Historically, Canada has been the largest foreign supplier of softwood lumber in the United States. These imports are vital to support the ongoing housing boom but have been declining over the past four years.
In April of 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced countervailing duties averaging 20 percent on softwood lumber products from certain Canadian producers. In December of 2020, the average tariff was reduced to 9 percent.
While a reduction in tariffs for some Canadian producers is a step in the right direction, the complete elimination of these tariffs is necessary to provide relief for rising lumber prices.
At a recent Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, I raised this topic with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and urged her to engage with her Canadian counterpart to reach a long-term agreement on softwood lumber trade.
It is American home buyers, not Canadian lumber producers, who end up paying the cost of these trade restrictions.
In addition to working to resolve this trade dispute, we should also work to boost domestic production of the types of lumber used for home construction.
Additional lumber can and should be sustainably harvested from public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Adding to the existing lumber supply, and ensuring domestic saw mills are operating at full capacity, will help soften lumber prices.
It is important for Kansans to have the opportunity and economic means to own their own homes. Unfortunately, current lumber prices are making that dream unattainable for too many families.
Resolving the longstanding trade dispute with Canada on softwood lumber and better managing our public lands to increase lumber production will both help alleviate the problem facing home builders and home buyers.
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