Months to replace a cracked oven door in Lakeview; an expensive, last-minute race to find 15 refrigerators for new homes in the English Channel; consumers either wait in arrears for dishwashers or choose to fix them instead.
The coronavirus pandemic quickly created the conditions for a nationwide shortage of household appliances last year, and it continues to linger a year later.
On the demand side, home sales are strong, and families confined to home have upgraded, renovated, or simply worn out appliances faster by using them more often. On the supply side, global factory closures due to COVID-19 outbreaks have created intermittent shortages of critical parts amid high demand for raw materials.
Things have improved a bit since the fall and there are still refrigerators, dishwashers, ranges, washers and dryers. But retailers say the experience of consuming what you want, when you want it, that Americans have long been accustomed to, will remain illusory for some time.
“Don’t wait until the last minute if you’re trying to build a house or buying appliances,” said Paul Klein, owner of Campo Better Living at Metairie. “Place your order now because I don’t think it will get any better until 2022.”
“There are definitely supply issues,” said Mike Gorman, co-owner and president of Gorman Brothers Appliances in Prairieville. “Delivery times are much longer than what we experienced a year to a year and a half ago. “
Klein’s Clearview Parkway showroom is dotted with cabinet cutouts and empty counters where customers opted for floor models of in-demand household appliances that they otherwise should have expected.
“People say, ‘Hey, I’m going to take it now,’” he said. Personally, Klein admits that the trend’s aesthetic impact on his otherwise flawless showroom “is killing me as a merchant,” but he says he has to sell what people want to buy.
Klein said wall ovens, refrigerators and dishwashers are extremely tight at the moment, and the lower, more affordable part of many brands is hard to find as manufacturers focus on expensive models with margins. higher beneficiaries.
He said freezers were the first affected very early in the pandemic, as fearful consumers stocked up on meat and other items they wanted to freeze. But refrigerators became scarce soon after schools and offices closed, and availability issues with other devices quickly followed suit.
Klein said the three top-rated dishwashers, all from Bosch, are out of stock until August.
“Appliance retailers, all of us are doing well because people are now at home with their home offices and using appliances twice as much,” he said. “You’re a lot more in that fridge than if you were working at the office downtown, mom washes more clothes and you do more dishes, and those things break down.
Page Dyer, owner of Professional Appliance Repair, said work at his company has calmed down lately, but at its peak, the normal 3-5 day wait has increased to three weeks.
“I made a joke once that if I didn’t own this business I would quit it was so busy,” she said.
Experts have long noted how the pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in a supply chain spread across the globe. And Klein said in one case, production of a popular brand of refrigerators halted last year after a factory in Mexico that supplies a key component was shut down for months due to an outbreak of COVID-19.
Gorman said suppliers told him manufacturers were seeing shortages of stainless steel, a major component of home appliances, and of the insulation used in refrigerators.
Shortages continue to create headaches in the real estate world, which has taken off as tenants and landlords stuck at home look to move to bigger or better homes.
In February, a survey by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo found that nearly 90% of builders said they had difficulty getting appliances when they needed them in the past six months, and 51 % said the problem was occurring to a “great degree.”
An inside look at the New Orleans real estate market and why prices are rising
Metro New Orleans, where sales of new and existing homes have been hot throughout the pandemic, is no exception.
“Our builder clients, our tenant clients, they’re just pulling their hair out,” said Aaron Dare of Crane Real Estate. “It’s crazy how these interruptions in our supply chain have affected things.”
Dare said he was preparing a home on General Haig Street in Lakeview to go on the market in January. A repairman accidentally over-tightened a screw on an oven, causing the glass door to crack.
Over the next two months, Dare was told repeatedly that the new door would be “next week,” an optimistic projection he passed on to interested buyers. Then all of a sudden he was told that it would depend on the manufacturer, and it was not clear when that would happen.
The house was contracted out and the deal ended with a new arrangement: if the new door is not installed within 60 days, the buyer will pay the seller $ 1,000.
“We’re just creative, we work around that and work with what’s available,” he said. “Everyone is doing their best. “
Cody Stringer, an agent for Reve Realtors, said deals were due on 15 new homes in the Irish Channel last fall when the developer discovered their fridges weren’t going to be ready on time. After a quick run, they found replacements that would fit the cutouts in the cabinets, but the builder had to eat an extra $ 1,200 per device.
Stringer, who also owns Baccara Homes, said headaches from a shortage of household appliances are adding to lumber costs that have nearly tripled and soaring prices for other building materials.
“Accessibility and expense make it quite a challenge,” he said.
How are house prices changing in New Orleans? One area is hot, another is in trouble
At the Spring Lakes development in Covington, Sales Representative Nell Francipane said DSLD Homes has had to change its appliance packages.
All homes in the planned development of 300 homes will come with the standard oven, microwave and dishwasher package, but DSLD decided a few weeks ago that it could no longer offer its upgrade package, which includes a refrigerator, washer and dryer.
Francipane said the market is warm enough that such concessions haven’t slowed sales.
There are signs that things could improve by the end of the year. Appliance maker Whirlpool, for example, recently told investors that the changes it made to accommodate plant closures in China would help it cope with its current backlog by the summer. .
In Campo, where about 60% of sales are made by builders and renovators with the rest of the consumer, Klein said buyers will have to wait for now if they want something specific or consider other things. options to get something faster.
“You have to be a little more flexible,” he said, “and you have to be a little more forgiving with the brands you buy.”
Editor-in-chief Ellyn Couvillon contributed to this report.