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Cost of construction rises in Tri- Cities

Cost of construction rises in Tri- Cities

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Housing prices continue to rise in the Tri-Cities. There are far fewer houses on the market, and now the price of lumber for new homes is rising.

Jeff Losey at the Homebuilders Association of Tri-Cities says housing prices continue to rise because of a trifecta of issues: labor, lumber and a shortage of lots.

"As the lots become more scarce the price is going to go up and cause housing to be less affordable in the short term," says Losey.

Lumber costs are rising for a couple reasons. In part, because new Canadian tariffs imposed by the Trump administration are making exported Canadian lumber more expensive. Those prices could be further impacted by natural disasters; two major hurricanes in Florida and Texas, and fires in California.

"How the wildfires or some of those might affect the prices here, it's still yet to be seen. But there is a lot of pressure on supplies right now because of hurricanes that have happened in Texas and hurricanes that have happened in Florida," says Losey.

The other major factor is a construction labor shortage, driving costs up. Tony Melewski is the construction trades instructor at Tri-Tech. He says the trades are hot and can offer a young person a great living. "There's a lot of opportunities in this business for anyone who's willing to go out and work hard everyday. It's not easy, but it is rewarding," says Melewski.

His classes are currently full. At least some of those young people will be funneled into local construction sub-contractors who need the workers. In the meantime, between lots, labor and lumber the cost of a new home rises with little relief on the horizon.

"In the long term we hope we can catch back up with that," says Losey.

According to Zillow, Kennewick home values have gone up 12% over the past year, 10% in Richland and Pasco.

Zillow predicts they will rise more than 5% within the next year.

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