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Martinsburg Mall hosts Home Show

March 02, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

Nancy Mason went to the 12th annual Home Show at Martinsburg Mall on Friday to get some ideas for landscaping around her house near Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

R & L Landscape Center's outdoor patio display, featuring live shrubs, pavers and pools of water, proved to be captivating.

"It's very neat, clean - simple, but very classic looking, also," Mason said.

"If you're into ideas for landscaping, this is the place to come," she said of the three-day event, which continues through Sunday.

Presented by the Eastern Panhandle Home Builders Association, the show - with a theme this year of "We're Going GREEN!" - is the organization's largest yet, with more than 225 exhibitors, said David Hartley, executive officer of the Home Builders Association. Some of the exhibitors were set up outside in the mall's parking lot near the food court.

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"We need a bigger space," Hartley said. "We're outgrowing our home."

The first show held at Martinsburg High School only hosted about 40 exhibitors.

Mike McKechnie of Mountain View Builders LLC was promoting a "tankless" water heater, which he said is in use all over the developed world except the United States.

"It actually should be illegal to have a tank water heater," said McKechnie, explaining how the compact, propane-fueled system is activated by actual demand.

The water heater system will pay for itself three times over before it stops working, said McKechnie, who also brought solar energy products to the show.

He also had brochures available on Skystream wind power generating systems that can be incorporated into a single home's utility system.

"We're here today to get the public excited about saving energy," McKechnie said.

Many people don't think energy-efficient home improvement products are affordable, let alone available, but he and his brother Mike McKechnie's business in Berkeley Springs is receiving a growing number of inquiries from people in the area who are looking for green products, McKechnie said.

As for home-buying opportunities, Louise Henry of the Martinsburg office of Allied Mortgage said the market for first-time home buyers was "perfect" after last year's real estate market slowdown.

"Even (bank) rates are still good," said Henry, noting builders are offering incentives, such as closing costs for real estate purchases.

Terri Reed of Shultz Realty said the real estate market has started to pick up a little bit from last year.

"Charles Town and Inwood (W.Va.) are very hot right now," Reed said.

The Eastern Panhandle Home Builders Association includes 315 members who employ more 12,000 people, Hartley said.

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