For Builders and Buyers, Lumber is a Bummer
Over the past several years we’ve seen real estate prices climb higher and higher due to a limited supply and an increased demand, but a new factor is pushing prices up even further: the skyrocketing price of building materials. So, what’s behind these increased prices, and, more importantly, when can we expect some relief?
We’re all painfully aware that the pandemic triggered widespread supply chain issues, and building materials have been no exception. Supplies of steel, aggregates, and cement have dried up, but the trend might be most noticeable when it comes to lumber.
Nearly every aspect of home construction necessitates lumber – framing, trim, doors, flooring, windows, railings, and cabinets. The pandemic shut down lumber mills across the country, and supply chains were slowed by a shortage of truck drivers. Low interest rates and a lack of existing inventory increased demand for new construction, and all that new construction increased demand for lumber. It’s a perfect storm of demand outpacing supply.
According to Markets Insider, lumber prices rose by over 400% between May of 2020 and May of 2021, with the price per thousand board feet going from $327 to $1,645 during that time span. That figure has corrected since May, but, as of this writing, prices are still substantially higher than this time last year.
The rise in lumber prices has added almost $36,000 to the price of an average new single-family home, and nearly $13,000 to that of a new multi-family home.
Building material supply shortages, coupled with increased prices for land, means buyers will continue to see high prices for new builds for at least the foreseeable future.
Last year, home price inflation reached 11.4%, but experts predict a slowdown to 8.1% through 2021. By 2023, price growth is expected to slow to 4%. To put it another way, the surge in home prices is expected to slow, but it’s going to take a few years as supply chains and work forces return to pre-pandemic levels of productivity.
Vacation with Peace of Mind
Ready to finally take that extended vacation this summer? Since it’s probably been a minute (or 751,680 minutes) since you’ve last traveled, here are a few helpful reminders for ensuring your home stays mishap free while you’re away.
Set Your Thermostat
If you have an AC, heatpump, or evaporative cooling unit, make sure to leave it on to prevent mold, mildew, and other conditions caused by heat and humidity. Adjust your thermostat to 4 degrees higher than you would if you were home, which will reduce energy use while ensuring that the unit runs periodically. If you can, invest in a smart thermostat, which will allow you to monitor and control conditions at home via a handy smartphone app wherever you are.
Turn Water Off
When you are going to be away for an extended period, it's a good idea to turn off your main water line. This can prevent plumbing leaks from occurring in your absence, which otherwise could result in significant water damage and costly repairs. After shutting off the main water valve, let your kitchen and bathroom faucets run dry, ensuring that no water is left in the pipes.
If shutting the water off isn’t an option due to sprinklers or other considerations, consider investing in some water leak detection sensors. Modern water detectors connect to your smartphone and will notify you if a leak is detected, and since kits start at around $40, they can be a smart investment whether you’re traveling or not.
Double Down on Smart Security
As with water sensors and smart thermostats, other smart security devices are now more affordable than ever. To give the appearance that someone is home, use smart plugs to toggle lights, fans, or a radio while you’re away. Also consider a smart security system – modern systems feature contract-free, affordable monitoring, quick DIY installation, and remote monitoring notifications.
Wrap Toilet Bowls with Plastic Wrap
By wrapping your toilet bowls, you are preventing sewer fumes from entering your home. Leaving your toilets unwrapped can result in a less-than-pleasant "welcome home" smell when you walk in the door. Just be sure to mark the cling wrap with a big, bold "X" or other warning symbol as a reminder for when you return.
Empty the Fridge, Take Out the Trash
No one wants to come home to a moldy, stinky science experiment in their fridge, so make sure to dump anything perishable from the refrigerator and take the garbage out. Your future-self will thank you.