Another topical piece this morning from USA Today reports that while lumber futures prices fell 65% during the U.S. housing collapse (Feb ’05 – Feb ’09), lumber is now up 93%. A number of key housing market factors are cited, offering “good reason to believe that timber will continue to grow” –
- The current average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate is 3.55% (“holy-smokes-that’s-low category”)
- Home prices are low. The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index gained 2.2% in May, but that’s still where they were in the summer of 2003
- Buying beats renting in many cities
- Inventory of new homes is at a 50-year low
- Housing starts have grown at a seasonally adjusted pace of 23.5% since June 2011.
The author adds here that both production curtailments and transportation constraints are contributing to a tightening of wood supply. “It takes more than a saw to produce lumber. You also need people and trucks to cart it to sawmills and to market. Truck drivers have gone on to other jobs.”