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Cheap Rent Could be Another Casualty of the Trade War

Trump’s tariffs on steel and other building materials are driving up building costs slowing development and pushing up rents.
July 28, 2018, 11am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Apartment Construction
Chad Zuber

Developers in Boston are worried about the spate of new tariffs from the Trump administration. "Tariffs imposed recently by the Trump administration on some of the country’s biggest trading partners are driving up the prices of lumber, steel, aluminum, and other building materials," Tim Logan and Adam Vaccaro write for The Boston Globe. When developers don't build, that slows down supply of housing. "In some cases, that could mean higher rents on apartments or more tax dollars spent on a new bridge," Logan and Vaccaro report.

Because the development cycle takes place over many years, changes in the price of materials can make a huge difference. Businesses want predictability. Rising costs also affect government projects, the city of Boston anticipates the bump in material costs will add $7.5 million dollars in additional cost to the projects. The added costs will have effects that go well beyond Boston.

Some developers are avoiding high raw steel tariffs by buying prefabricated steel products, like pipes and beams, in Canada and trucking them to the United States.

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Published on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 in The Boston Globe
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