The Blue Ridge Homebuilder's Association 2011 Parade of Homes

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This year is no exception as twelve of the area’s finest builders will showcase 27 new homes in a large geographic area that includes Greene, Fluvanna and Louisa Counties, as well as Charlottesville city and Albemarle County; from as far east as Keswick to as far west as Crozet.

This year’s Parade also includes the newly opened Preserve at Glenmore, which includes multi-acre homesites plus one 23 acre mini-homestead available for yet-to-be-built homes.

Today the builders are busy preparing for the hundreds of guests that regularly attend this yearly event. The 48th annual Parade of Homes opens this Saturday, October 1st at noon. By that time the homes will be complete and beautifully decorated with knowledgeable agents and staff available to answer questions and explain all of the new technology, energy saving devices and many other special features they have to offer. The Parade has something for everyone, from first time buyers to those looking for a luxury property in prices ranging from $250,000 to $1 million.

Visitors to these new homes will also have an opportunity to see and evaluate a variety of different kinds of neighborhoods, including townhome developments, walkable communities and locations with special amenities such as golf courses, horse back riding, or boating. Each neighborhood has its own flavor and it is essential to sample that, especially if you are considering moving in. In fact, Marina Ringstrom, a REALTOR® with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate III, said that the Parade is as much about showcasing communities as it is about homes
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Whether or not you plan to buy a home in the near future, you are welcome at the Parade, which is a great opportunity to scope out housing styles and quality. You also will learn about the best in energy saving and green building concepts, along with decorating ideas and remodeling tips. Visitors who want to buy a home can learn all about the many advantages of new construction, and how much house and what kinds of amenities they can expect for the money they have to spend.

The 48th annual Parade of Homes is a two weekend event, October 1st and 2nd and 8th and 9th, from noon until 5:00 p.m. all four days. The Parade map is available at the Blue Ridge Home Builders Association website (www.brhba.org) and in local publications.

The Parade of Homes Offers Many Benefits
The purpose of the Parade of Homes is to demonstrate the best of the best in new home construction. As Jim Kuznar, Executive Vice President of the Blue Ridge Home Builders Association explained: “We’re extremely proud to showcase the best builders and neighborhoods around Charlottesville and the surrounding area.” He expressed pride in the number of builders participating in this year’s Parade in the midst of a challenging real estate market and encourages everyone to come out and see the “array of different home styles, amenities and special features including unique designs and energy saving ideas.” He explained that the Parade of Homes has a lot to offer home buyers, as well as those looking for decorating ideas, or wanting information about innovations such as tankless water heaters, upgraded insulation options or the latest in heating and cooling systems.

For anyone actively looking for a home, “the Parade is a good way to understand the local real estate market,” says Greg Slater a REALTOR® with Better Homes and Gardens, Real Estate III, who represents Piedmont Realty and Construction in this year’s Parade. “The Parade lets you know what is the latest and greatest in new homes and reflects how builders are responding to market needs,” he said.

This year there will be lots of emphasis on energy efficiency. For example, builders are using more energy-efficient windows and finding ways to tighten the home’s thermal envelope and conserve water.

Slater also explained there is more interest now in creating home spaces based on buyers’ needs that reflect today’s lifestyles rather than what we thought was essential in times past. Good examples may be formal dining or living rooms, which many buyers no longer consider a necessity. This year when you visit the Parade be alert for alternative kinds of floor plans that make different but innovative use of space that more accurately reflects the way many of us live today.

If remodeling your present home is something you are thinking about, visiting the Parade can help you know what’s current so you can make decisions consistent, not only with your needs, but with future resale value. For example, visiting Parade homes is a great way to know what’s new in the way of trim, cabinetry, countertops, plumbing fixtures and lighting. You can also learn about exterior features such as siding, decks or walkways. A big advantage of the Parade is that it allows you to see many different interior and exterior features all at once, giving you an overview that’s hard to get any other way.

Michael Gutherie, CEO and Managing Broker for Roy Wheeler Realty, explained another reason why it makes sense to go to the Parade, especially if you are in the market for a home. “The Parade offers an opportunity for people to go through the homes, ask questions, talk to agents and builders and not have the pressure of being seen as buyers. It’s a lot more natural and comfortable to walk through a home this way,” he said. He suggests people take advantage of this opportunity to walk leisurely through these homes and see the work of lots of different kinds of builders in different price ranges and with varying architectural styles.

The Parade also benefits all of us through its positive impact on the local real estate market. Marina Ringstrom explained that traditionally local real estate sales spike in October and she believes this is due in large part to the Parade.

The Parade Is About 
Teamwork and Cooperation
The Parade of Homes is organized by a committee at BRHBA that starts work months before it opens in October. According to John Scott with Builders First Source, a building supply company, Parade planning starts in the spring when UVA announces its football schedule. The committee then schedules dates which include at least one, and hopefully two weekends in a row where the Parade doesn’t compete with a game.

The next order of business is to talk to builders to find out which ones want to participate and how many homes they wish to enter. As houses are completed, committee members inspect them to ensure they are ready when the Parade opens. Then builders, sponsors, committee members and others all enjoy the gala kick-off event planned by the committee.

In years past the Parade has included judging of homes and amenities with awards going to winners. However, this year the committee and builder community decided to forego the awards. Instead, the emphasis is on cooperation to demonstrate what the building community can accomplish when everyone works together.
Part of what makes the Parade a possibility each year is the generosity of sponsors, which reflects yet another kind of teamwork. While there are several levels of sponsorship, the main or presenting sponsors this year are Roy Wheeler Realty Company and New American Mortgage.

Michael Gutherie explained his company’s decision to be a sponsor by saying that over the years they have benefitted when builders chose Roy Wheeler agents to represent them. The decision to become a main sponsor was in part due to his desire to give back to the builder community and to BRHBA. One of the agents from his company also serves on the Parade committee.

How to Make the Most of Your Parade Experience
The Parade is a great opportunity to see a lot of different architectural styles in a wide variety of geographic locations over a short period of time. There are a number of ways to take advantage of all that it has to offer.

Start by visiting the BRHBA website, or finding the Parade information in one of our local publications. Marina Ringstrom suggests holding on to the information for the two weeks of the Parade so you have a list of the builders, locations and prices. Then consider all of your questions and make a detailed list. While each home will have a knowledgeable builder representative available to answer questions, many builders also will be available giving you an unusual opportunity to get information from the individual who knows the home and its systems the best. If you are in the market to build, this also gives you a chance to see which of the builders you would feel comfortable working with.

If buying a home is in your immediate future, Michael Guthrie suggests having yourself pre-qualified by a local lender before the start of the Parade. When you know how much home you can afford you can realistically evaluate available floor plans and extras to determine if they will work with your budget. Of course, even if you can’t afford a particular home, you can still gain insight and information from the builder or their representative about features that you may be able to incorporate into the one you eventually purchase.

People who want to renovate their present home should also bring their questions. The Parade is a great time to get ideas that will and won’t work at your house. Talk to the different builders and ask lots of questions. Many of them also do remodeling and can give you ideas about whether the projects you are planning are realistic and cost effective. They may also be able to shed light on the extent to which the remodeling jobs may pay for themselves when it’s time to sell your house.

The Preserve at 
Glenmore Adds a 
Different Element
While the Parade primarily includes new homes, this year the Preserve at Glenmore is also one of the entrants. This newly opened section now has a paved road into the multi-acre homesites to allow Parade goers to scope them out as a possible spot for building their dream home. “If you are planning to build and like the benefits of a gated community but prefer lots of privacy, The Preserve may be a good option for you to consider,” said Marina Ringstrom. Located at the highest point in Glenmore, the homesites are between 5 and 7 acres with one exceptional 23 acre mini-homestead also available. Visit the Glenmore home on the Parade and then stop and take a walk at The Preserve. These large lots with beautiful hardwoods may be just what you’ve been looking for.

Celeste Smucker is a writer, editor and author of Sold on Me, Daily Inspiration for Real Estate Agents. She lives near Charlottesville. 

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