Experts Talk Lumber Tariffs' Impact on Home Prices

June 13, 2018
Photo: Unsplash/Eric Muhr

Tariffs on lumber from Canada may be helping to raise home prices, as the added cost is passed on to homebuyers, according to new reporting. 

Data from lumber publication Random Lengths show that the cost of 1,000 board feed of Western Canadian lumber is up about 80 percent over the past year. Jerry Howard, chief executive of the National Association of Home Builders, is trying to "sound the alarm," in conversations with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the U.S. trade representative, CNBC reports, as the number of homes being built has not risen despite rising housing prices. Ross says, "Home prices have risen by much more than the increase in lumber prices, and this is reflected in the strong profit margins of the home builders."

The lumber tariffs, which took effect last year, combined with other factors to drive up the price of lumber in the United States. As a result, the ... tariffs have added to the cost of housing in the U.S. at a time when homes are becoming less affordable. The Trump administration's tariffs on steel and aluminum, and any others that follow, could also contribute to rising costs for businesses and consumers. Ross defended the lumber tariffs. "Anti-dumping and countervailing duties provide the domestic industry with relief from dumping and improper subsidies. Price fluctuations from other factors are not part of the calculus."

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