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Will Lumber Prices Go Down? Yes, or so We Think!

Salem, MA, June 10th, 2021 – Maybe we are reiterating the obvious but on March 10th of 2020 and thereabouts, we were shutdown. We, meaning all of us including, lumber yards, restaurants, schools, offices, manufacturing companies and everything else you can think of. It was a time of fear, uncertainty and hopelessness. Purchase orders were cancelled or put on hold, maybe even returned.

Construction projects got put on the back burner or simply died altogether. It was a time in which the world froze. Interestingly shortly after the “shutdown”, Flow kept getting residential project requests. People begun to see the falling tiles in their bathroom, how small and inefficient their kitchens were, how difficult it is to go up and down the stairs to use the toilet or simply that there was not an office, gym or deck to do it all in one place. Home was everything after all. I guess tripping with the children toys becomes a problem when you have to go through it 24/7. Whichever the reason, there was a need that became inescapable and unavoidable.

It did help to have some extra cash at hand when enhanced unemployment benefits, PPP, and stimulus checks were sent out. Then I guess it made sense to look around for architects and get projects designed and approved. It made sense to take steps toward improving our homes more so when there was not a vacation coming anytime soon. Now, you may ask, what does this have to do with lumber prices.

Well, it has everything to do. I am not the owner of HomeDepot, Lowes or any home improvement supplier but had I been one. I probably would have cancelled a lot of orders for production of lumber and returned as much of what I could as possible in order to wait and see what happens. And then what happened? People put on masks and went shopping for goods while the service industry was non-existing. This is why prices begun to go up for lumber and construction materials. Manufacturing was not ready to get any orders and they were short staffed due to the shutdown and stay at home restrictions.

I don’t have to explain that people stuck at home and their homes falling apart, makes for a lot of arguments one cannot escape to the bar to vent about. They say, happy wife, happy life so the house had to be dealt with. If not that, what else would one do with the extra cash?

This triggered a demand that could have never been met by the local material supplier who had cancelled, returned or slowed down the delivery of orders. I mean, even the truck drivers were playing it safe, collecting unemployment and wanting to renovate their own master bedrooms. Prices had to go up.

Now here we are, mostly vaccinated and substantially reopened. Will prices continue to rise? Will the housing market become reasonable again? I am here to say yes. I surely hope so too but hoping won’t make it happen; facts are facts.

We are in an overpriced market due to the simple dynamics of supply and demand. If demand is higher than supply, prices tend to go up. Demand for goods kept going up as people had nothing else to do at home but to fix and improve their homes. Most people bought durable and non durable goods that they could get shipped to their homes or local store. Now is when me acting as a home improvement supply house would react to what happened? Remember the wait and see what happens? Well, now I have pressure to double, triple and quadruple orders so that my clients don’t go to the shop next door or buy something else instead. Now manufacturing and production is back to work and well, lumber and trees aren’t really in scarcity by any natural phenomenon at all. Now the truck drivers’ unemployment has run out and hey nothing wrong with them, just making a point here.

So, if most stores have increased their orders to match demand, that alone should balance things out and prices should stabilize, right? Yet, something even more fascinating is taking place and it is that people can now go back to the service industry, namely restaurants, hotels, theaters and so forth and given the current prices of materials, they have decided to hold off and wait on their construction projects. What will the home improvement stores do with all of these quadrupled orders and inventory? Return them? Put them on sale? Well, now is the opposite case. Supply is beginning to surpass demand. Now that the majority of the population is going back to work, whoever did not design and begun building during the pandemic, will not have an appetite to build at this point but rather go on the long awaited vacation before starting the new job. Now, people more than ever want to live, enjoy and quite frankly have a good time!

This is all good news for those of you who have plans ready for permitting and can indeed wait a little for prices to stabilize. This is also good for those who played it safe and made no plans or incurred any expenses with their stimulus money and savings. Now, the future is somewhat predictable and designing your dream renovation can happen while we relax and see the prices of materials drop. Do not overpay for something that is bound to go down. Now, I am not financial advisor, nor am I an economist. This is generally just my opinion and not the one of Flow or the team for which I work. I happen to want to shine light, hope and happiness into the end of some of the darkest months of our lifetime. Thank you!

Flow Design Architects is a culturally diverse architectural ecosystem where everyone has a voice and a shot at making a better world through the use of materials, form, and space. Our design philosophy is fueled by the strengths and skills each partner brings into the table to achieve a common purpose: great and impactful architecture for humanity. The process is essentially an organized oasis of resources working in harmony via thoughtful collaboration. The studio is rooted in creative and innovative ideas that can solve some of today’s challenges regarding space, art, form and culture while merging the lines between architecture and art. Darguin Fortuna and Marcos Severino both founders of Flow are from the Dominican Republic where they initiated their education in architecture. They both hold a Bachelors of Architecture NAAB Accredited Professional Degrees from the Boston Architectural College and have over 13 years of educational and professional experience in the creative industry of design. The office has architectural licenses in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Florida.

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