Home Show Vendors Say Economy Is Improving

Madison-area homebuilders and remodelers said Friday they expected a better 2012, pointing to falling unemployment and rising new home sales.

Their comments came during the 14th Madison Home Expo at the Monona Terrace Convention Center. About 260 vendors, selling a variety of products, attended the show.

U.S. new home sales hit a seven-month high in November, while homeowners finally started smaller remodeling projects they had delayed during the recession, vendors said.

“I think it’s people staying in their homes (that’s spurring sales),” said Mick Kennedy, who owns Wisconsin Landscapes and Remodeling in Blue Mounds. Kennedy said he relies on word of mouth and local home shows to bring in business.

New homebuilders, struggling for years because of low demand and a glut of inventory, said they’re busier this winter than last.

“There’s a lot more positive feel out there, and a lot more people are interested in buying a home,” said Dan Beal, owner of Craftsman Construction in Baraboo. “It’s a great time to build.”

Beal said his company was building six new homes, five more than this time last year. He said they ranged from $200,000 starter homes to a pricier $1.4 million house.

Dozens of home expo vendors pitched products they said would save money for homeowners. Scott Niesen, a territory manager at Water Furnace in Cambridge, said his product would cut an average family’s energy bills 50 to 70 percent.

“This is the future of heating and cooling,” Niesen said about his product, which compresses groundwater, which is constantly around 50 degrees, to heat and cool a home. “It’s good for the economy as well as the homeowner.”

John Paul, regional marketing manager for Leaf Filter Gutter Protection, came up from Chicago to attend the home show. He said business for his company, which sells a steel mesh device that fits over home gutters, is always good at the show.

“If it’s for your house, prolonging the life and safety of your home, that’s something you’re always going to want to do,” Paul said.

Other vendors promoted repairing as a cost-saving alternative to replacing broken home needs. Scott Sievert, president of Miracle Method Surface Refinishing in Janesville, said he could repair a bathtub for $450, while replacing that same tub could cost more than $2,000.

“It’s quite a bit cheaper, a much quicker turnaround time,” Sievert said. “Instead of spending $10,000 to redo (the whole) bathroom, they can spend $1,000 and get a very nice product.”

For information regarding the home show, go to http://homeshowcenter.com/Visitors/homeshow.aspx?show=Madison.