September 19, 2021

MP Now News

Mortgage News

Trusses and Two-by-Fours: VA Tech and Forest Service Connect Housing Data to Forest Products Industry

Urs Buehlmann, left, from Virginia Tech’s Department of Sustainable Biomaterials, and Delton Alderman from the USDA Forest Service, have been working together on the monthly housing reports since 2011. Photo: Krista Timney, Virginia Tech.

The monthly housing report, which Bühlmann estimates to reach around 20,000 professionals, helps companies and private individuals to close the gap between the changes in the housing industry and the effects of these changes on the hardwood and softwood industries.

“The housing market is critical to the hardwood industry,” said Judd Johnson, editor of the Hardwood market report and a professional with 30 years of experience working and overseeing the US hardwood industry. “The information provided by the housing report provides us with comprehensive information about what is happening not only in construction, but also on the financial side.”

The report contains data on the monthly starts of construction of single and multi-family houses, building permits, completed buildings and house sales as well as their orientation on a monthly and yearly basis. There is also information about the use of wood in construction, regional house prices, affordability data, and US and global economic indicators.

While the data presented broadly encompasses trends between housing and industry, the real-time information affects decisions made by wood producers and buyers such as manufacturing will affect demand for secondary wood products.

“The key metrics I look at are the number of starts and wood consumption that the report reveals,” said Robbie Watkins, purchasing manager at Fortress wood products. “These are some of the contexts in which I try to stay one step ahead of the trends in a market that is going through an interesting phase.”

Alderman noted that the data in the report is critical to the decision-making process for builders and manufacturers.

“Many secondary manufacturers base their production schedule on data from homes under construction,” he said. “While larger companies can afford the association fees that give them quick access to this data, we are working to bridge the gap with smaller companies that need this information.”

For Bühlmann, the comprehensive nature of the report means that various target groups can find useful information in the document.

“The idea was never for anyone to read it cover to cover,” he said. “The driving intention was that we should present the data consistently so that different needs could be covered by the same report. Some people will turn to housing data first, while others may be more interested in the GDP forecasts we provide. “

Although publishing a monthly report is a demanding task, the schedule means that the housing and business information being shared is accurate and up-to-date.

“It’s a valuable tool in the toolbox,” said Johnson. “The information enables companies and individuals to see where things are going and make better decisions about how to structure their business to capitalize on the moment or weather the storm.”

Written by David Fleming