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Is the Broken Housing Supply Chain Starting to Mend?

Christian Beard
Dean Wehrli

Chris Beard

Dean Wehrli

August 19, 2022

When COVID-19 hit in 2020, we found out just how critical the supply chain was to almost every part of our economic life. Perhaps no industry has been more impacted by supply chain bottlenecks than housing. A diverse array of products that go into our homes, and the labor that makes and installs them, have been disrupted. Although there have been other supply shortages in the past, the magnitude and suddenness of the disruption to global supply flows was unprecedented.

For the latest episode of The New Home Insights podcast we talked to not one but two experts. Greg Brooks with the Executive Council on Construction Supply and our own Chris Beard at John Burns Real Estate Consulting both closely monitor the building products space. Greg and Chris joined us to share their insights on housing supply chain disruptions, what’s happening right now, and what might the future hold.

Featured guests

Greg Brooks, Moderator of the Executive Council on Construction Supply, and editor of LBM Executive

Chris Beard, Director of Building Products Research, John Burns Real Estate Consulting

What caused the disruptions?

  • Labor took a hit. Fewer workers and sick workers affected every economic sector, including housing.
  • The workers that were still in the factories and distribution centers faced a sudden shortage of components made overseas.
  • Weather piled on, causing hiccups in important chemicals used in building products such as resins, as well as harvesting wood for lumber and panels.
  • Transportation shortages and high freight costs for trucks, trains, and ocean vessels took their toll.

What products were most affected? And what was the result?

  • The short answer is—all of them. Virtually every product has been impacted at some point.

  • Products with more complicated supply chains such as windows have been hit the hardest and longest, whereas other products such as lumber have been gradually improving.

  • These disruptions have elongated build times and longer lead times leave more room for further disruptions due to labor, components, etc.
  • Supply shortages—particularly at a time when housing demand was spiking— have led to huge price increases across most building products.

When is it going to get better?

  • As demand softens from lower housing starts, product availability has improved for many products, though others remain on long lead times.
  • We can already see improvements in the supply chain and more are coming, which will ease supply shortages and help tame prices.
  • PropTech—technology developed for the real estate sector. Real estate is poised to finally join the 21st century

Interested in a deeper dive on this topic and our complete building products outlook and spending forecast? Contact us for more information.

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About The Author

Christian Beard
Chris Beard
Vice President, Building Products Research
Chris manages JBREC’s monthly Dealer Survey and quarterly Prefab Components Index as well as public building products earnings. He leverages his relationships with distribution and manufacturers to help form JBREC’s forecast theses.
Dean Wehrli
Dean Wehrli
Dean helps housing sector clients figure out not just what might work and what might not, but why.

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