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Lumber’s price has fallen 71%, and better deals await DIYers

August 16, 2021, 4:22 PM UTC

For the 11th consecutive week, the price of framing lumber is down.

On Friday, the cash market price fell to $432 per thousand board feet, according to data provided to Fortune this week by Fastmarkets’ Random Lengths, an industry trade publication. That’s down 71% from its $1,515 all-time high in late May.

That cash price is a wholesale figure—not what you’d pay in the aisles of big-box retailers like Lowe’s or at a lumberyard. When the lumber bubble initially popped, those retailers were resistant to markdowns, in part because they didn’t want to take a loss on wood they had bought at peak prices. However, in recent weeks, price cuts are finally reaching the retail side, too.

Kyle Little, COO at Sherwood Lumber, told Fortune last week that the drop on the wholesale side should be fully passed on to the retail side by the end of this month, or in September at the latest.

The markdowns on the retail side vary by region and market, Ashley Boeckholt, cofounder of MaterialsXchange, tells Fortune.

His advice? Lumber shoppers can simply wait for a better price—that is, when the wholesale savings is fully passed on to the retail side. If your DIY project can’t wait a few more weeks, buyers could choose to aggressively shop around, he says.

But this decline in prices doesn’t mean lumber buyers are out of the woods. The bad wildfire season currently raging in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and British Columbia—the epicenter of North American softwood lumber—could cause more sawmills to halt production. Not to mention, the U.S. South—home to southern yellow pine—is about to enter hurricane season. Given that U.S. homebuilding remains elevated, any major supply disruption could cause another round of price hikes. That said, industry insiders say any future increases are unlikely to look anything like the spring run that sent prices up over 300%.

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