Recession Is On Mind Of Home Show Visitors

February 18, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

Albert McClanahan came to the Annapolis Home Show on Saturday looking for remodeling ideas for his home in Cape St. Claire. But he wasn'tlooking to hire any contractors.

"You are more cautious now," he said of the recession. "We are moving more toward the do-it-yourself road."

John Lauer, who owns a home in Pasadena, was doing the same thing.

"I just wanted to get an idea of what I have to do so I can go and do it myself," he said.

Thoughts like those could be heard upand down the aisles at the Annapolis Armory during the annual home show, which highlights trends in building and additions, everything from retractable decks to rotating windows to innovative kitchen utensils.

Business owners said the housing market -- from buying homes to fixing them up -- is improving, but people are still leery about spending money. It's not that they're broke -- they just want to hold on to what they have.

"People have the money," said Steve Boettinger, president of S & J Homekrafters Inc., a home-improvement firm located in College Park and Rockville. "They just don't want to put it out. It is not so much because of the economy but because of the war."

Mark Vanreuth of Brightview Builders, a contracting firm located in Arnold, agreed. He said sales are improving, "but not like they were a year ago. People seem to be reserved and cautious."

But he said he has been to the show for eight years and never goes home empty-handed. "In the past three weeks, things have started to pick up.

"A lot of people depend on bank financing," he said. "Banks have been tightening up their market. I had one woman who had her bank pull outthe day before closing. Bulldozers were on the land and the bank called and said they couldn't honor the commitment."

Glenn Cauvin of Annapolis is looking for a home. He says he attends all the home shows, looking for ideas. He found one Saturday with Omni Building Systems, a company located in Columbia.

Depending on the fee, Omni will do anything from acting as the buyer's personal foreman to actually building a home. A customer can use Omni for construction of a home toany stage of completion desired.

"I've never seen anything like it before," said Cauvin, who is looking to retire and build a home in North Carolina. "In today's market, it makes sense."

Edward A. Miller, representing Omni at the show, said many people have stopped by his booth. He said the recession is just a mind game -- the more it is mentioned, the more people believe it exists.

People also seem to be interested in improving their homes. Keith Caudill, representingthe Landscape and Development Corp. in Edgewater, said business is steady. "People still want to do things to their house," he said.

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