Harvey recovery could mean labor, lumber shortages in Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — If you’re planning to build a new home, be prepared to pay more and wait longer for it to be completed.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Houston and Beaumont with floodwaters, is expected to swamp homebuilders throughout the state as well, including in North Texas, where a lingering labor shortage and rising lumber prices already had new home prices creeping up.

Now, with months of reconstruction work just starting along the Gulf Coast, it may take even longer for new homes in the Metroplex to go up, experts say.

“There is a labor shortage all around and generally Harvey did not help,” said Scott Jacobsen, purchasing manager at Riverside Homebuilders, which builds communities in Fort Worth and Dallas. While his company has contracts in place to keep prices fixed for supplies like lumber, Jacobsen said he wouldn’t be surprised to see overall material prices increase.

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The time it takes to build a new home had already increased to between six and eight months from about four in past housing cycles, said Ted Wilson, principal with Residential Strategies, a Dallas research firm that tracks the housing industry.

The situation had improved slightly over the summer, but now “everybody is a little concerned that the hurricane is adding to a situation that was starting to improve,” Wilson said.

With thousands of flood-damaged homes in need of repairs, some initially feared that laborers would flock to the Gulf Coast region for steady work. While that may be the case for construction workers from outside of Texas who were already looking to relocate for work, it’s unlikely that those building homes in North Texas will head south.

“The market is just as strong up there in your neck of the woods where labor rates are pretty good and work is steady,” said Jim Gaines, chief economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University in College Station.

Currently, Fort Worth only has a two-month supply of housing, much narrower than the average of six months considered a balanced market. In Fort Worth, new homes are selling for a median price of $285,806, according to a report from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.

Village Homes, which builds homes in Fort Worth, said it currently takes six to seven months to complete a home and doesn’t anticipate losing workers to hurricane…

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