- Weyerhaeuser CEO Devin Stockfish said home-improvement projects are a key driver of lumber prices.
- Lumber prices have fallen from May’s record highs, but experts say they will stay elevated for several years.
- A truck-driver shortage is also threatening to push prices even higher.
The CEO of Weyerhaeuser, one of the world’s largest private owners of timberland, said the housing boom is not the only reason lumber prices are soaring — a surge in home-improvement projects is also driving the market.
While lumber prices have fallen back from May’s record high of $1,700 per thousand board feet, commodity experts anticipate the home-building product to trade above $1,000 (well above the $400 historical average) for the next three to five years. Weyerhaeuser CEO Devin Stockfish recently told TIME that home repair and remodeling projects will continue to keep lumber prices elevated.
Though the red-hot housing market has largely been credited with driving lumber prices, a shortage of nearly 4 million US homes has had a ripple effect on the home-improvement market, as more people look to update their homes without the option of buying a new one.
“Repair/remodel is actually also a very big driver, from do-it-yourself folks buying wood at Home Depot to all these people that have old houses,” Stockfish told Time. ‘They want a new office, they want a new kitchen.”
The CEO said the pandemic underscored the importance of home life, driving many people to renovate their work-from-home space.
At the same time, many aging baby boomers are choosing to remodel their homes instead of moving into retirement homes. Earlier this year, a Merrill Lynch and Age Wave retirement study found that many people between the ages of 50 and 60 are bucking the retirement trend of downsizing or moving into a retirement home in favor of remodeling or purchasing a larger house.
“There just became a whole new appreciation for the value of a home,” Stockfish said.
The CEO, whose company is responsible for over 12 million acres of timberland in the US as well as about 14 million in Canada, said the US labor shortage is also an ongoing concern for the industry.
“That’s something we’ll be keeping a pretty close eye on,” Stockfish said. “We haven’t had it get to the point where it’s really impacting our production, but one of the things that’s a little bit of a leading indicator that we’re watching closely is when we advertise for roles, the applicant pool has been down quite a bit versus what it has been historically.”
The labor shortage hit the trucking industry hard this year, as the pandemic triggered a surge in online shopping. The shortage has helped exacerbate massive shipping delays as well as push transportation costs to new highs, as shipping containers wait outside key US ports for weeks to unload. Earlier this month, Insider’s Kate Duffy reported that some trucking companies have nearly doubled pay in an attempt to lure in more drivers.
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