Lumber shortage driving up prices of new homes around Kansas City area


LENEXA, Kan. — Home prices are skyrocketing in the Kansas City metro thanks, in part, to reduced inventory and low interest rates.

But it’s not just existing homes. The price of new homes is rising along with the cost of lumber.

Johnson County builder Bickimer Homes is building 87 homes right now, which is more than usual as buyers in bidding wars for existing homes decided building a new home might be a better option.

But the past year has been more challenging for builders than the Great Recession of 2008.

“During the Great Recession there were no buyers. Now we have all the buyers, but we don’t have the material or labor to build the house properly, specifically the lumber,” said Tommy Bickimer, president of Bickimer Homes.

“It created a perfect storm and supply shock. As domestic mills and lumber yards try to catch up to demand being what it is, they are running into the same problems as other industries are,” said Will Ruder, the executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City.

Bickimer said while they wait for materials, homes that usually take 6-7 months to build are now taking a year or more. But that’s not as painful as when he has to tell buyers about price increases, usually covered in cost escalation clauses in contracts.

“Those have been some of the toughest conversations I’ve ever had to deal with in this business. People are building their dream home, and now we are having to tell them we are going to have to add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of their home,” Bickimer said.

With the average cost of a new home now up $36,000 nationwide, the Home Builder’s Association of Greater Kansas City is calling on lawmakers to make sure even middle income families aren’t priced out of the market.

“There are a lot of buyers out there who simply can’t be asked or shouldn’t be asked to absorb an additional $36,000,” Ruder said.

So far, Bickimer says only two buyers have backed out of their deals.

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