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Copper wiring shortage impacting Utah's tight housing market

Copper wiring shortage impacting Utah's tight housing market (KUTV)
Copper wiring shortage impacting Utah's tight housing market (KUTV)
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Utah's housing market is showing no signs of slowing down, and an added complication for home builders and buyers alike is a shortage of materials.

One of those materials in short supply is copper, and it’s making an impact on housing prices.

Travis Ferran, owner of Newport Audio, Video & Electrical, wires about 50 to 60 houses a month for electrical. But he only has enough copper wiring to last another month.

“Extremely tightly squeezed,” Ferran told 2News. “In the 20 years I’ve been in business, I’ve never, ever seen this.”

He's dealing with a copper shortage. Reuters recently reported prices would hit a record high in the next year, driven by tight supply. Ferran is tracking that himself, noting his prices have gone up roughly four times in the last year.

Add to that other shortages like lumber, concrete, and — in Ferran's case — electrical breakers and PVC pipe.

“Now that we’re dealing with the fact that we might not have products to put into homes is a big stress factor,” Ferran said.

This has an impact on home prices. The Salt Lake Home Builders Association told 2News, on average, prices are up nearly $4,000 in electrical wiring alone. All this uncertainty over the cost of materials has many builders unable to sign contracts with buyers until a home is nearly completed.

“It’s just one more factor that is really negative,” said Jim Wood, senior research fellow with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. He said material shortages only make Utah's housing market worse.

It’ll lead to fewer households being able to get into the housing market and on track to wealth creation. It’s very unfortunate.”

Wood noted that he has studied the Utah housing market since the 1970s, and this “has been the craziest period I’ve ever seen.”

Ferran hopes for some relief soon. Until then, he has to pass on his cost increase – and that means to buyers.

It's horrible," he said. "I've never seen it like this."

This comes at an unprecedented time in Utah. The median length of time for a home on the market right now, according to Wood, is just five days.

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