While still high compared to recent years, southern yellow pine (SYP) lumber prices have dropped from their record high of $576/MBF posted in early June. Forest2Market’s composite southern yellow pine lumber price for the week ending July 20 (Week 29) was $513/MBF, an 11 percent decrease from the record high but a 0.6 percent increase from the previous week’s price of $510/MBF. Year-over-year, week 29’s price represents a 36 percent increase from the same week in 2017.
We continue to see weekly stories about the high price of building materials, and lumber in particular, that are contributing to higher home prices—roughly $7,000 on average. While home prices are indeed climbing, the pace at which homes are being built has not significantly increased. In fact, supply is not keeping up with demand. It’s difficult at this point to tell what is really driving this dynamic, as homebuilders remain optimistic according to the mainstream survey metrics.
A closer look at some of the prices we have seen since the beginning of the year:
- 1Q2018 Average Price: $449/MBF
- 2Q2018 Average Price: $518/MBF
- YTD Average Price: $487/MBF
Following a significant decrease in activity over the last two weeks, SYP orders ticked up in week 29 and shipments jumped to levels not seen since the beginning of the month. While June’s housing starts data was lackluster (-12 percent) compared to the previous month, the increase in orders/shipments during week 29 seems surprising. However, a late summer rally could be in the works; we’ll have to wait for July data to see whether the housing sector has temporarily peaked or if June was simply a down month.