April 2016 Whole House Commodity Index

April 2016 Whole House Graph


by Don Magruder, CEO of RoMac Building Supply

The Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc. Whole House Commodity Index (Index) for April had the biggest one month increase in two years, but the Index still finished under last year’s level.  Building materials and commodity markets are trying to develop some upward momentum, but overall market strength is just not there—it’s spotty.

Over the last 30 days, the Index increased 1.7% to $30,145, which is about a half point lower than April 2015. The vast majority of the items were flat, with those increasing pricing doing so with moderate enthusiasm.

Below are the primary movers in this month’s Index:

  • 5/8” rebar was up 22.9% on higher than expected demand.
  • CDX plywood dropped 1.6% while OSB sheathing added a whopping 11.3%.  Until this month, those markets had been moving in tandem.  This could be a sign of price shoppers entering the market.
  • Truss pricing was up 4.7% on increased demand and higher pine pricing.
  • Dimensional spruce was up a little more than 2.0% while studs were flat to down.
  • 2×4 pine was up 10.0% plus while 2×6 pine increased about half as much.  Wide-width 2×12 in 16’ lengths were up a whopping 22.4%.  Rain in the south is hampering logging for wide products.
  • The long-awaited drywall increase took hold in April adding on average 6.5%-7.4% to most drywall boards.
  • Vinyl soffit added 2.2% on increased pricing from manufacturers.

The challenge for pricing and this month’s increase is whether or not it has legs.  Some believe (and history in recent years has indicated) that April price increases have failed to go into May and June.  This year, especially with a milder winter, there is a belief that the northern areas will have a lackluster spring building season.  This could prove detrimental to propping up pricing.  The continued economic struggles in the oil patch economies could damper home sales as summer heats up.

One area that may see some price appreciation is roofing.  Bad weather and hailstorms are creating roofing demand in Texas as well as many areas throughout the south.  This year, spring and summer price increases in roofing could actually stick and manufacturers may be starting to be in charge again—we will see.

Overall, builders should be mindful of the increases, include them in their bids, and watch for specific increases in certain products.  Let’s see if April’s price increases really have legs and if they can run past mid-May—I would not bet on it.

The Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc. Whole House Commodity Index is based on wholesale costs of the base components to build a 2,200 square foot wood frame home with a concrete stem wall in Central Florida.  The Index includes foundation, metal, concrete, block, stucco, cement, wood framing, siding, sheathings, trusses, roofing, drywall, insulation, windows, doors, trim, garage doors, and most building hardware.  It does not include décor, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, landscaping, or labor.  Because the Index uses current wholesale costs, this should be a strong indicator of the direction of building prices for the next 30-45 days.

Don Magruder is the Chief Executive Officer of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc. in Central Florida. Go to romacfl.com to sign-up for the Index and other free market reports. To sign-up for this information via email, contact Rebecca Ballash at rebecca.ballash@romaclumber.com