PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Over the last year, lumber prices have increased roughly 500% and experts say that’s comparable to the price of gas going up to $13 a gallon.
Brian Kegg is the regional sales manager of Parr Lumber for the Portland area. He told us despite popular belief, soaring wood prices right now don’t have to much to do with COVID-19 or the state’s devastating wildfires.
Although earlier this past spring and summer, the pandemic certainly did play a role, but now it’s all about supply and demand and Kegg says lumber mills simply cannot keep up with a building boom in the Pacific Northwest.
Even on a national scale home builds right now are up to about 1.5 new construction starts, when typically it’s around 1.2.
“There’s a tremendous demand for housing, there’s no housing available in Portland, the RLS has like one month of inventory, so interest rates are extremely low, people have the buying power, so they are just fighting demand,” said Kegg.
He adds lumber prices have leveled off in recent weeks, but supply sheeting used to build homes, called OSB panels, are in very short supply and are increasing in price each week.
Lumber experts say they don’t expect this to be the new normal. Some new mills are expected to be opening in Canada relatively soon and that should help with supply issues.