While much of American business has shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, home builders are still building houses.
But these companies are bracing for a sudden drop in demand due to the outbreak and the weakening U.S. economy, which is likely to slow construction and exacerbate the national housing shortage.
Most parts of the country have allowed housing developments to continue, but other issues threaten to derail some projects. They could be delayed by difficulties in obtaining government permits or inspections. Some builders are reporting supply-chain disruptions for materials like lighting and plumbing fixtures related to imports from China and other countries.
Home builders also anticipate a sharp slowdown in new projects. Home-buying demand was strong earlier in the year, boosted by low mortgage rates. But now, many potential buyers are facing layoffs, drops in the value of their stock-market portfolios and widespread economic uncertainty.
“It is a double