OXFORD – Scott Stone, chairman of the Housing Capital of New England spring home show, said Monday that the housing market is alive and well in Oxford Hills.

It’s a message that Stone and members of Housing Capital of New England hope to spread when the ninth annual modular and manufactured housing show gets under way Friday, April 23, and runs through Sunday, April 25. Housing Capital of New England is a group of manufactured/modular home businesses in Oxford Hills.

“I think people have been sitting on their hands long enough. There comes a time when you have to say enough is enough,” said Stone of the negative perception he says national news media has cast on the housing market in general.

Stone, who co-owns Schiavi Home Builders in Oxford with John Schiavi, said Monday that the industry has had to overcome serious obstacles this year, including low appraisals caused in part by distress home sales and the perception that the Maine housing industry is in “big trouble” like Michigan, Florida and California, where major banks have come under scrutiny for fraudulent lending practices.

“That is really the big, big story. We get barraged with people telling us we shouldn’t do this, we shouldn’t do that,” said Stone of the national media which he says puts out a daily message that this isn’t the time to be buying houses. “We don’t have those issues but we’re talked to as if we do. That’s a huge obstacle to overcome. There is no one there to really separate the differences between Maine and Michigan,” he said.

Banks are lending money. Stone said.

“It’s really business as usual for us,” he said.

With that said, Stone and others along the Route 121 and 26 manufactured housing business corridor agree that the housing show is off to a great start.

Kristin Jones, a sales representative with Twin Town Homes on Route 26 in Oxford, said people have already begun to show up this week to get an early view of the houses.

“It’s been a lot better this year. There’s buyers everywhere,” she said. “Traffic is up at least 80 percent from last year.”

Jerry Dodge, sales home sales specialist for Schiavi, agrees that the market has improved since last year’s show.

“It’s stronger. There’s a lot more activity,” Dodge said Monday. “It’s been a total turnaround.”

“I think it’s going to be huge,” said Stone of the show that features seven manufactured home businesses. They are: Coastline Homes on Route 26 in Paris; Twin Town Homes, Schiavi Home Builders, Turn Key Homes and Alternative Modular Homes, all along Route 26 in Oxford; Keiser Homes on Route 121 in Oxford and Design First Homes on Route 121 in Mechanic Falls.

Visitors to the home show will be able to view new model manufactured homes, tour factories and attend a seminar focused on sustainable building and renewable energy.

At Keiser Homes, a green seminar will be held on Saturday at the 56 Mechanic Falls Road headquarters beginning at 9 a.m., preceded by a one-hour factory tour beginning at 8 a.m.

The morning-long seminar will begin with an introduction to Keiser Homes and Energy Star upgrades and then talk about issues like energy efficiency, resource conservation, reducing greenhouse gases and improving indoor air quality through the use of better insulation, superior fixtures and appliances and “thoughtful” design, said Josh Saunders of Keiser Homes.

Additionally, Keiser and Kaplan Thompson Architects of Portland will present the modular home they collectively designed. Saunders said the home will generate as much energy as it consumes for heat and power over the course of a year through solar panels and other technology.

Stone said that with historically low mortgage interest rates and the value of building energy-efficient new homes that save consumers over the years, Housing Capital of New England is saying people should start buying homes again.

” … we’re told every night (by the news media) don’t do anything. As we continue not to do anything we continue to get worse,” Stone said. “We are fulfilling the prophecy by not doing anything.”

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