Back in 2011, the North American Wholesale Lumber Association (NAWLA) Regional Meeting in Vancouver featured three excellent speakers: Daryl Swetlishoff (Head of Research, Raymond James Ltd), Oscar Faoro (Special Projects, Canadian Wood Council), and Jim Jia (President, L J Resources Ltd). I recall catching up with Oscar following his informative presentation on multi-family, sustainable densification. He openly laughed at analyst projections that U.S. housing starts would return to 1.4 million by 2014. “It’s not going to happen like that!” asserted Oscar.
… Fast forward to today. Housing starts are at an annual pace of 976,000. The rate of multi-family starts grew by 21% in the first eight months of the year, while single-family starts grew just 2%.
Today’s MNI News Reality Check here is packed with surprisingly forthright quotes. It’s a good read. In the piece, Paul Jannke of Forest Economic Advisors, a bull in a Bruins jersey at NAWLA Vancouver 2012, now contends that demand for housing will not sustain an upturn in lumber prices. Says Jannke, “If you’re selling 400,000 (homes), why do you need to build 1.4 million? If you look at the actual demand for housing, it’s not as high as people think it is.”
… Could it be that housing starts data has taken on “a different meaning for the lumber industry”, as Shawn Church at Random Lengths suggested here, back in March?
“Lumber producers are making a lot of money producing lumber right now, and what do you do when you make a lot of money? You produce more lumber. It’s unlikely that we are going to see a significant increase in lumber prices.”
– Paul Jannke, Forest Economic Advisors (Sept. 2014)