PHOENIX — While you were at home social distancing from the coronavirus, so were various workers across the country.
At the same time, do-it-yourselfers were taking the extra time at home to finish upgrades creating a simple economics problem - demand for lumber started to increase just as supply started to drop.
"There's a lot of shortages at mills. So, there's a lot of issues filling inventory orders," said Roman Arellano, the assistant to the president at Zarsky Lumber in Corpus Christi, Texas. "Due to COVID-19, there were a lot of shortages at the mills, there were a lot of issues filling the inventory orders, and during that time you saw a lot of prices start to soar up.”
This means, at the store you were paying close to $8 or $9 for something that normally costs $3 or $4.
But here's some good news:
Since peaking in May at almost $1,600 per 1,000 board feet, prices have started to tumble dropping 75% as of September 1st.
Mills have restarted and some have ramped up production, while some customers have chosen to put off projects until prices come down - putting less pressure on both the supply and demand for lumber.
So, the big question... is now the time to buy?
Lumber is trading slightly higher than the average between 2009 and 2019.
Prices we checked at major valley stores like Home Depot and Lowes are coming down.
The average price for an 8-foot 2x4 is around $3.50. Prior to the pandemic that was around $2.60.
So how is this impacting the price homes?
Experts we talked to say the cost to build has gone up about 25% in the last 6 months. That could change as always, on supply and demand.