Builders from around the country meeting in Las Vegas today through Friday can expect to see the latest thing in home appliances, construction materials, and homebuilding equipment. What they won't see are the record crowds that the International Builders' Show drew a few years ago.
After peaking in 2006 with more than 105,000 in attendance, the big builders' expo is expected to lure fewer than 60,000 visitors this year.
"Yes, the numbers are down significantly," said Bob Morris, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Dallas. "The last time I looked, there were about 180 of our members going.
"We have had as many as 600 to 800 attend in the past," he said.
That was before the housing industry went through its biggest contraction on record. There were about 555,000 home starts nationwide in 2009—less than a third of what was built in 2005.
However, attendance is expected to be higher than last year's show, which "occurred at the rock bottom of the industry," said David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, which sponsors the annual event. "The International Builders' Show for 2010 begins with production and sales up from their all-time record lows by 10 percent to 30 percent. It will still be a slow, bumpy ride up as we meet challenges, like poor availability of credit for builders, hesitant consumers, and a slow overall economic recovery."
Along with the drop in attendance, the number of exhibitors for this week's convention has fallen to around 1,110 companies, down from almost 2,000 in 2006.
Product manufacturers that count on the show to sign new business can take comfort in knowing that the builders who attend the conference are looking at the market with more expectations than in recent years, industry analysts say.
"They should be a little more optimistic now – and even more for next year," said David Berson, chief economist for PMI Group, a California-based mortgage insurance firm.
(Source: The Dallas Morning News)
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