From the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Builders at annual show lack optimism, attendance
By Alan J. Heavens
INQUIRER REAL ESTATE WRITER
ORLANDO - The International Builders' Show opened today without the boundless optimism that characterized the annual convention of home builders from 1998 to 2005, when the real estate market was booming.
Attendance numbers were down, and the behemoth Orange County Convention Center - jammed last year with a record 104,000 builders from all over the country - seemed strangely quiet.
"We're expecting 10 to 15 percent fewer this year," said Donna Reichle, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Home Builders. "The official numbers aren't released till Saturday, and we're pinning our hopes on on-site registration."
Filling the four-day show schedule are programs that reflect the gloom besetting the residential-construction industry: "Marketing Against Resales and Foreclosures"; "When Survival Equals Success"; "Securing Investors and Lenders for Land Development in a Downturn."
A two-year market decline in the nation's major growth areas (Florida, California and the Southwest), coupled with continued softness in other regions, seemed to be taking its toll, or at least taxing the patience of the people at the convention's helm.