By Celeste M. Smucker –
The best of the best of Charlottesville’s new construction is on display again this weekend—Saturday and Sunday, October 7 and 8 from noon to 5:00 p.m.—at the Blue Ridge Homebuilders Association’s (BRHBA) 54th Annual Parade of Homes, featuring 41 homes from 17 builders. Everyone is invited and even if you have no plans to build, come and be dazzled by the latest in energy saving technologies and design features.
Parade visitors can also enjoy this once-a-year opportunity to pick the brains of experts in new construction who will answer your questions about building a new home as well as the best ways to save on utility costs at your present house or make it more livable now and in the long term.
Be sure to get your copy of the Parade of Homes Magazine with maps and details about each Parade entry now available in the blue boxes where you pick up your CAAR Real Estate Weekly every week. Or find it online at the Parade of Homes page at the BRHBA website.
Maps are divided into three areas—East, Central and West—with homes identified by a number, address and builder’s name. Each home also has its own page with info about the builder, the site agent and more, making it easy for visitors to plan a trip that includes all of the homes, neighborhoods and builders of greatest interest.
As always, the Parade is free and all visitors are welcome, so bring friends and family, take advantage of this annual event and enjoy an easy no-pressure time learning about the latest in new homes from professionals eager to be of service.
Low Maintenance and Outdoor Living Popular
Are you curious about what is trending in the way of home styles, floor plans, color schemes and design? Learn all about it when you visit as many Parade homes as possible. There is sure to be much to intrigue you starting with stress-free ways to enjoy outdoor living.
If you prefer to spend your free time traveling, having fun with friends, or being active in the community you’ll be happy to see the many, increasingly popular, low maintenance features in new homes, said Susan Stewart with Roy Wheeler Realty Co. Low maintenance also appeals to people who are building or renovating with the intention of aging in place. Decks that don’t require regular staining and sealing, smaller yards and/or low maintenance landscaping, and hardiplank siding—which Stewart says gives a cleaner look—are good examples.
Large yards are less important to new home buyers for another reason, explained Michael Guthrie, CEO and Managing Broker of Roy Wheeler Realty Co. When given the choice of less yard or more house, families often choose the latter opting for more interior space, especially if they have a growing family or special needs like they work from home and need space for their office.
While buyers are opting for smaller yards, they still like the idea of outdoor living spaces, which continue to be in demand. For example, outdoor kitchens and roof top terraces are back again this year, said Kristin Sorokti BRHBA’s Executive Director.
“In Cascadia buyers will have the ability to see three different designs of townhomes with rooftop terraces from three different builders, all with stunning views of Charlottesville and the mountains,” said Kate Colvin, Craig Builders Customer Representative and REALTOR® with Roy Wheeler Realty Co.
Andrea Akers, Sales Administrator with Southern Development Homes, invites you to enjoy the Blue Ridge views from the rooftop terrace at her company’s Cascadia townhome that features both a gas fire table and a kitchen for entertaining.
Of course for the buyers who crave privacy, several of the Parade neighborhoods have multi-acre lots. Dominion Custom Homes, represented by Michelle Pike with Roy Wheeler Realty Co., has a Parade entry located in Proffit Ridge, a neighborhood that features custom homes on two to seven acre lots with great views.
Large lots are also a big draw at The Farms of Turkey Run, 12 miles south of Charlottesville, that offers 20 acre lots and where you will find Spear Builders’ Vintage Log Cabin, part of this year’s parade. Jen McBride, Director of Sales and Marketing for Murcielago LLC, parent company of this development, described the neighborhood as “private, secluded and quaint..that attracts both retirees and young professionals” who love the privacy and the easy access to the amenities of both Charlottesville and Scottsville.
Dazzling Features for Every Lifestyle
Every year brings new ideas and new home features and the Parade is a great way to view them all in one place.
Many interiors now feature high ceilings, contemporary floor plans, lots of glass and light, and bright colors, said Jim Faulconer, Broker with McLean Faulconer, Inc. who represents Renaissance Builders. He added that white kitchens and granite countertops are still in demand, and that he is happy to see this interest in contemporary styling, which at one time was a hard sell in our marketplace.
While the agents agreed on the continued popularity of granite countertops, there are other alternatives that are also getting attention. Akers mentioned quartz countertops as did Anna Posner, Design Consultant at Southern Development’s Design Center (a separate entry in the Parade) stating that it is easy to maintain. Sandstone with its “unique look,” is another popular choice, Akers said.
If you want more light in your home, check out another interesting new trend, open tread stairs.”They let in more light,” said Jodi Mills with Nest Realty Group who represents Stony Point Design/Build in the Parade, especially, she added, if your home is a three story townhome.
However, “the hottest thing, right now,” she said, “is shiplap.” She suggests using it in white, unfinished or natural. And in the kitchen, Mills is seeing a lot of buyers opting for tile that goes all the way to the ceiling instead of stopping a few feet above the stove or sink.
Right Sizing For Your Lifestyle
Agents see a lot of buyers who are both downsizing and preparing to age in place in their next home. While for some this is because their children have grown, for others a smaller, more energy efficient home with a small yard is a better fit for their current lifestyle. Still others want to make their present home work better for their needs. A popular way to describe this trend is right sizing.
Pike hears from a lot of buyers who want features that allow them to age comfortably in place. She is happy to answer questions about the best choices for these buyers, especially since many of the features are standard in Dominion’s homes. Good examples are wide doors (to permit passage via wheelchair or walker), no-step entries and single level living. Of special note in her Parade home this year is the doorless, walk-in shower, much larger than a typical shower and built in a U-shape.
Low maintenance interior items also make it easier to live in a home long term. One popular option is a new high quality, commercial-grade laminate flooring. Akers explained that it is actually more expensive than hardwood, but “it lasts forever.” And unlike hardwoods, it won’t be damaged by pets or someone walking across it in high heels.
To get an idea of what design elements look like up close, or to learn more about what would work best in your home, stop at Southern Development’s Design Center during the Parade to compare and contrast different choices and question onsite designers. You can also take advantage of a new feature, a virtual tour of design elements and homes, Akers said.
The builders also welcome input from Parade visitors on improvements they would like to see when they come back again next year, so don’t be shy about sharing ideas. TJ Southmayd, Craig Builders Customer Representative and REALTOR® at Nest Realty Group invites you to visit the Parade entry at Foothill Crossing where “we’ll be showcasing a brand new version of our popular ‘Monterey’ model with updates based on buyer feedback from previous Parade of Homes visitors. In fact, we’ll be asking each visitor for feedback for future improvements this year also.”
Vintage Log Cabin Featured This Year
If you are intrigued by the idea of a home built with historic elements, but with all the modern conveniences, be sure to tour the Parade’s first ever Vintage Log Cabin from Spear Builders.
Located in The Farms of Turkey Run at Mount Ida Reserve near Scottsville, the home uses pre-Civil War hand-hewn logs, eight of which are 34 feet across. Others were cut to accommodate windows, doors and other design features.
Builder Dan Spear explained that historic preservation is “a niche of his,” and the idea of using historic elements in a home that is part of the Parade seemed very appealing. Before you go inside be sure to admire the stone work in the home’s foundation walls and on the garage exterior as well as in the two chimneys and fireplaces.
Then check out the interior with its all-Virginia oak flooring and custom cabinets made from air-dried Virginia oak. Recessed lighting, cable railing and a glass tile shower add a contemporary touch. Another point of interest is the bar in the basement, which was rescued from a 50s era Elks Club in West Virginia.
Energy Savings Popular
A huge benefit of new homes is the energy saving features builders incorporate thanks to consumer demand.
“Green building is hot,” Mills said, “It’s what everyone is expecting.”
“The overwhelming majority of builders in our marketplace now feature energy efficient construction methods as a core part of their offering,” Slater said, adding that “energy efficiency continues to be key to the new home buyer.”
Many of the homes in this year’s event are also EarthCraft certified, which means they are rated according to measures such as energy efficiency, indoor air quality and efficient use of materials. River House Condominiums, at Stony Point Design/Build’s Riverside Village, is the first EarthCraft Multifamily project in Charlottesville, Mills said. A unique feature is its solar canopy over the covered parking that helps offset utility costs in the common areas of the project.
Not only will energy saving features reduce home owner utility bills, their value can also be incorporated into the home’s appraisal at resale. One way to assure this is to document the home’s amenities that contribute to its comfort, energy performance, and indoor air quality by using a company such as Pearl Home Certification, something Dominion Homes is in process of doing for their Parade home, Pike said.
Builders and REALTORS® Collaborate
While Parade builders love to welcome customers into their models every year, meeting and networking with local REALTORS® are also priorities.
The BRHBA nurtures the builders’ relationship with REALTORS® through its annual sponsorship of the REALTOR® Home Tour a special event, exclusively for agents, offering a unique opportunity for them to see the Parade homes and familiarize themselves with what is new. It also allows for agents to have more “personal one-on-one time with the builders,” Sorokti said.
The REALTOR® Home Tour is also an opportunity for agents to network with each other and learn what their respective clients are looking for in homes and neighborhoods.
Bring a friend and a list of questions, and take advantage of this weekend’s final opportunity to talk to site agents and builders at the Parade. Pick up a Magazine with a map in one of the CAAR Real Estate Weekly blue boxes or at the BRHBA website, or consult your favorite REALTOR®.
Celeste Smucker is a writer and blogger who lives near Charlottesville.