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NAHB calls on Biden to combat “housing affordability crisis”

The trade organization claims that volatility in lumber prices has raised the price of a typical single family home by more than $18,600

The National Association of Home Builders is calling on the White House to take on what the trade organization called “the growing housing affordability crisis.”

In a letter sent to President Biden on Wednesday, signed by more than 10,000 NAHB members, the group warned that rising housing prices are pushing the housing market to “an inflection point that threatens to derail the current housing and economic expansion.”

The trade organization, which represents large and smaller contractors, pointed to numerous problems that have contributed to the crisis. The high cost of building supplies and supply chain woes, rising interest rates, regulations and a lack of construction workers have all played a role, NAHB wrote.

The resulting affordability crisis has been particularly acute for entry-level buyers and renters, the group said.

“Our members in every state across the land are clearly concerned that growing supply chain disruptions and worsening affordability conditions that are harming demand are weakening the housing market,” NAHB chairman Jerry Konter said in a statement. “The industry believes these challenges will grow worse if meaningful steps are not taken to allow builders to increase the supply of affordable single-family and multifamily for-sale and for-rent housing. If the housing sector falters, the economy will surely follow.”

In a press release, the NAHB said that since August, the volatility of lumber prices has raised the price of a typical single family home by more than $18,600 and added approximately $10,000 to the cost of a typical apartment. These price increases come when housing affordability is already at a more than 10-year low, according to the latest data from the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index.

The builders’ letter also included some suggestions for how to tackle the affordability crisis. At the top of the trade group’s list is eliminating tariffs on Canadian lumber, which it claims work as an added tax on American homebuyers.

“An important first step to address housing affordability challenges in this current high-inflation environment would be to immediately suspend tariffs on softwood lumber imports from Canada and to move quickly to enter into negotiations with Canada to pursue a new, long-term softwood lumber agreement,” the letter to Biden stated.

The NAHB also called on the White House to address “federal regulator reform,” which it claims is placing upward pressures on housing costs.

In the past, NAHB pushed for revisions to federal fair housing regulations to avoid “federal encroachment on local land use decisions.” The group has also criticized guidance that prevented owners of federally assisted housing from evicting tenants on the basis of arrest records.

“Reducing burdensome regulations that account for nearly 25% of the price of building a single-family home and more than 30% of the cost of a typical multifamily development will provide more homeownership and rental housing opportunities for all Americans,” the letter said.