Forestry Report

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Winter 2023 | No. 159

It looks like a trend is emerging in the housing market! Housing starts increased in November, continuing a slow but steady rise that began in September. The better way to look at it is by examining the two price plateaus that occurred this year. In the early part of the year, January through April, F&W’s Lumber-Use Adjusted Housing Starts ranged from 1.025 to 1.07 million, annualized. After taking a big jump in May, starts dropped back down, but not to the earlier levels. In the latter part of the year, adjusted starts ranged from 1.09 to 1.31 million. The F&W-adjusted starts factor in the different lumber usage in single-family homes vs. multiple-family buildings, which is necessary for long-term comparisons. During the boom period of 1994 to 2006, adjusted starts were in excess of 1.2 million. We find ourselves back in that range, with November adjusted starts surpassing 1.31 million. Watch this number. If it stays above 1.2 million for several months, we could start to see demand impact timber stumpage prices.
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Fall 2023 | No. 158

In our last issue, the very favorable May housing start numbers caused some optimism on my part. At the end of the article, I promised to let you know in the next newsletter if May was an anomaly or the beginning of a favorable trend. It was an anomaly—but not completely. The June and July numbers, while not as high, were better than preceding months. So, I was still feeling a little optimistic. And then came the August numbers. Back to the bottom, the lowest since June 2020. We will just have to keep watching starts and the Federal Reserve’s actions on interest rates. As soon as rates start dropping—and I expect that to happen before the presidential campaign really heats up—I think we will see housing pick up and hopefully our sawtimber markets too.
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Summer 2023 | No. 157

Throughout the second quarter, most factors seemed to point towards continued declines in stumpage prices, quotas for loggers, and a depressed housing market. But late in the quarter, news came out that housing starts in May shot up to 1.6 million annualized units, the highest rate since April 2022. This was followed by a climb in lumber prices. And suddenly there was hope again! Hope that the downturn, which started hitting hard in the fourth quarter of 2022, might have bottomed out and we might have begun the recovery. It’ll take a few months of positive numbers to establish a trend, but I couldn’t ignore the positive signs that showed up at the end of this quarter.
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