In Oklahoma City, the Spring Parade of Homes goes on through a trade storm

by Richard Mize

A trade war over lumber looms over U.S. homebuilding, but it won’t rain on the Spring Parade of Homes.

It could spur would-be buyers to act, in fact, since the price of lumber is up and the price of new houses will follow, according to the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association, which organized the parade.

Import tax

Lumber prices started heading up when it became clear that a 10-year trade agreement with Canada over softwood lumber imports would not be renegotiated by the time it expired at the end of 2016. The U.S. argues that Canadian timber, which is publicly owned, is unfairly subsidized.

This week the U.S. Commerce Department imposed a 20-percent tax — technically a countervailing duty — on Canadian lumber imports.

“It’s anticipated that American producers will raise their prices as well, to match that price, to just kind of pad their profits. Consequently, that’s going to make the cost of new home construction (go up) — the lumber package alone could go up 20 percent,” said Rusty Appleton, executive director of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association…

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