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Lumber shortage leads to increase in El Paso housing prices

A home under construction in northwest El Paso, Texas (KFOX14/CBS4)
A home under construction in northwest El Paso, Texas (KFOX14/CBS4)
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Many El Pasoans who took on home improvement projects said they're coming across an unexpected issue.

The latest shortage across the country appears to be lumber. This is not only affecting homeowners but construction companies as well.

"On April 1 of 2020, the price of lumber closed at about $259 per thousand board feet. Then on August 17 just a couple weeks ago it closed at $735 per thousand board feet which is an increase of a little over two and a half times in just a couple of months," said Joe Garcia, a managing partner with Strong Roofing and Construction.

The shortage in lumber started in March when the COVID-19 pandemic caused saw and lumber mills to close, said Garcia.

"Because of the COVID-19 pandemic a lot of people have been staying home and that’s also increasing the number of home-improvement projects as well so now there’s more demand and less supply and obviously the price of lumber and wood has gone up significantly," Garcia said.

Garcia explained how this shortage is impacting home buyers.

"If you want a roof done or you want to build a house an example on just new home buildings right now is if you were building a new house your price is going to be between $5,000 to $10,000 more just on lumber alone," Garcia said. "A house right now say a year ago say a basic 2,000 square foot house you could have probably gotten a year ago for probably about $205,000 to $220,000. Right now you’re looking at probably $250,000 to $270,000 for the same house."

The home improvement season usually begins in the summer, Garcia said.

"Same store sales for quarter 2 of 2020 for Home Depot were up 25% and then the same store sales for Lowes are up 30% for quarter 2," Garcia said.

The rise in sales at improvement stores due to the spike in Lumber prices may leave some waiting on finishing their projects.

"I bet you when they’re about to make that final payment or what have you they're very surprised because of the price increase," Garcia said.

The scarcity of this material is not only raising prices, but affecting jobs as well.

"It affects people working like the builders and construction companies because originally and initially we didn’t know prices were going to be skyrocketing so high," Garcia said.

With no set answer on when prices may go down, the best thing to do is continue at-home projects to help the economy, advised Garcia.

"It might stay high for at least the foreseeable future," Garcia said. "Go ahead and do those projects and you’re not only helping out yourself but you’re helping out companies like mine that can actually give jobs to a lot of different people."

One of the biggest issues The El Paso Association of Builders is facing, is a delay in receiving deliveries of lumber.

The delivery time would be around 90 to 120 days for liveable and lower pricing homes, Ray Adauto, the executive vice president at the El Paso Association of Builders said. He added, that delivery time is near 180 days.


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