In it’s quarterly report the US Census Bureau’s quarterly Survey of Construction detailed that over the first two months of 2018, the total number of single-family permits issued nationwide reached 123,871. On a year-over-year basis, this is an +11.2% increase over the February 2017 level of 111,356 single-family permits.
The results from the SOC are similar, single-family permits over the second month of 2018 was, 122,800 which is +10.2% ahead of its level over the same period of 2017, 111,400.
Meanwhile, in advance of the glowing new single-family housing building permits is joint quarterly data release from the US Census Bureau and HUD Wednesday, that total US housing starts increased slightly in March, led by multifamily construction strength. Starts increased +1.9% to a 1.32 million seasonally adjusted annual rate.
As a result, the insatiable demand for lumber seen so far this year continued unabated.
Current Softwood Lumber Prices Compared to Recent and Historical Highs
As true home building weather approaches North America, lumber buyers can only swallow their astonishment at these continually-rising prices. Sawmills and lumber producers in the north and west face more bad news coming as final data of the timber loss due to the terrible wildfires of 2017 will be revealed. As well, a new fire season approaches. Even right now, California has started experiencing fires in some forested areas.
Moving into building season this year, forest operators will have to keep a firm mind on the remaining timber supply and how that is meant to provide sufficient logs for the respective sawmills in that area.
Indeed, the supply-demand imbalance of 2017 has served to shoot log prices up significantly in the most fire-affected areas; of British Columbia, Washington State, Oregon and Northern California. Some lumber producers have already started making adjustments, by curtailing some operations and shuffling staff around, in order to best make use of what merchantable timber remains within their tenures.