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U.S. Tariffs Will Hit Homebuyers' Wallets

Thursday, July 26, 2018

If Americans didn't face enough of a challenge buying a home as housing prices increase and interest rates rise, here's another: tariffs. The Trump administration's levies on a range of imports, along with retaliatory moves by U.S. trading partners, are raising the costs of homeownership.

Here’s how:

Building your place from scratch? Lumber prices have soared nearly 30% in the last year due to U.S. tariffs on Canadian wood, as well as supply shortages due to wildfires. Lumber is the main material used to frame houses. That increase has fueled price increases of up to $9,000 for a new single-family home, according to the National Association of Homebuilders.

Buying certain appliances will cost you more, too. The price of washing machines in the U.S. has jumped an average of nearly 20% since last year, according to federal data. Most of that is due to tariffs. The administration recently enacted tariffs of up to 50% on imported washing machines. And steel and aluminum, key components in these products, are getting more expensive due to tariffs on imports of those metals.

Renewable energy systems may be more expensive, as solar panel prices increase. The 30% tariff the U.S. imposed in January on imported solar panels translates to about 10 cents per watt – the typical home solar setup delivering roughly 5,000 watts, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association. A spokesperson for the group said the tariff could add $500 to $1,000 to the cost of the average residential solar system.

Storm shutters in some regions are seeing price hikes. For anyone building or buying a home in hurricane-threatened coastal regions, storm shutters are a must. Some business owners in West Palm Beach, Florida, are raising prices on shutters by upwards of 20% due to the steel and aluminum tariffs, reports CBS affiliate WPEC. The average cost of installing shutters in the U.S. is $3,074, according to contractor site HomeAdvisor, so a 20% hike would add more than $600 to the tab.

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