A simple, single-story home with a sloping roof and oversized front windows sits in the CenturyLink Field Event Center, and Seattle Home Show director Mike Kalian is happy about that.
The 1,365-square-foot rambler manufactured by Fleetwood Homes is the first full-size model display at the Seattle Home Show since the housing bubble burst in 2007, and he said, its return is a reflection of the turning housing market.
Kalian said for the past few years only smaller 800-1,000 feet model homes have been displayed.
“We would have featured a large model home if we could have gotten one,” said Kalian. “But (housing manufacturers) just couldn’t afford to put a model home in. It’s not a cheap operation.”
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The median price of all houses sold in King County in 2012 was up 7 percent from 2011 — the first annual increase in five years, according to a year-end report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. And the optimism the upturn caused is apparent in other aspects of the show, too. This year there will be 510 vendors offering everything associated with living in a home, up from 480 last year.
“We used to have a waiting list (for vendors),” Kalian said. “Then for a while we had to work to keep the show going. Now we’re starting to get a waiting list again, so we’re feeling pretty good about that.”
Home Show spokeswoman Belinda Young said several small homes also will be on display.
“Small homes were becoming popular before the recession, and that trend has continued,” said Young.
Young said outdoor living is also popular right now, and visitors can expect to see outdoor roof coverings, fireplaces and heating systems at the show.
Ben Middlemiss, owner of Newcastle-based outdoor-remodeling company London Design Build, said customers have been investing in more elaborate projects recently so he added more luxury items to the show’s display.
“We did very well during the recession because people wanted to improve what they had instead of selling their homes,” Middlemiss said. “But now people aren’t just getting what they need, they are also getting luxury items like water features and high-tech lighting systems.”
NW Green Homes general manager Ron Parker, who designed the full-size model home on display at the show, said business has been looking up recently.
“We’re starting to see more traffic in our offices,” said Parker. “Have we sold more homes? Not yet. But you have to see more people to sell more homes, and we’re seeing more people.”
Torre Dahl, co-owner of Edmonds-based Northwest Natural Lighting, said they are offering new products, including a new solar-tube design, in the hopes that they will see an upturn in sales this year.
“Things seem to be turning and people are willing to spend a little more than in the past,” Dahl said.