It’s not too late to see the best of Charlottesville’s new construction as the Blue Ridge Homebuilders Association’s 53rd Annual Parade of Homes continues this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, October 8 and 9 from noon to 5:00 pm.
This year’s Parade features 38 homes from 18 builders, up from last year, reflecting our region’s active new construction market. In addition, Parade goers can explore the amenities available in three featured neighborhoods and stop off at the Southern Development Homes Design Center to see what is new in the way of counter tops, cabinets, floors, fixtures and carpet. Professional designers will be on hand during the event to give advice and answer any and all questions.
Even if building a home is not in your immediate future, the Parade builders and agents look forward to answering questions about the latest in energy saving technologies and design features, many of which may be applicable to your present home.
As always, the Parade is free and all visitors are welcome. Come and take advantage of this special opportunity to enjoy an easy and relaxed time learning about new construction from professionals eager to be of service.
Information and Parade maps are available in the Parade of Homes Magazine in the CAAR Real Estate Weekly, C-VILLE Weekly and the Daily Progress, or online at the BRHBA website and Parade of Homes Facebook page. Maps are divided into four areas with homes identified by a number, address and builder’s name. Each home also has its own page with the name of 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.
New Home Trends
One of the main highlights of the Parade is the chance to see what is new in the way of home styles, floor plans, color schemes and design. And with this many builders and homes there is something for everyone.
For example, Susan Stewart with Roy Wheeler Realty Co. has noticed a trend of “seasoned buyers moving from Northern Virginia, New Jersey and other places up north…looking to escape the traffic and congestion and ultimately wanting a quieter area still close to shopping, doctors, vets, etc.” Most of these buyers are 50+ looking for one level homes. On the other hand, many younger buyers prefer a two-story design with all the bedrooms on the same floor so parents can be near their children. Look for examples of both in the Parade.
“Contemporary design and energy plus features are always in high demand,” Stewart said, adding that today many buyers prefer open floor plans set on private lots. The seasoned buyers are also choosing granite countertops, hardwood floors and other upgrades while first timers are more interested in getting “the best bang for their buck.”
“The “modern look,” is popular said Jodi Mills with Roy Wheeler Realty Co., representing Stony Point Design/Build’s Parade entry. She added that screened porches and outdoor living areas are also in demand.
If adding outdoor living space to your new or existing home is one of your priorities, learn about some of the impressive options available when you attend this year’s Parade. For example, Tom Brannock with Loring Woodriff Real Estate Associates, and a Customer Representative for Craig Builders in Old Trail, invites Parade goers to come see “our Old Trail Parade home that has a blue stone patio with stone sitting walls, a built-in gas grill, and even an outdoor TV to add an additional entertainment space.”
Like other design features, color schemes come and go. Mills explained that there are lots of new siding colors available for home exteriors this year, of which “beautiful grays are very popular.” Grays are being used more and more in interiors as well, Mills said, citing their popularity among buyers of Stony Point Design/Build’s new homes. “We’ve been dealing with the same colors for years,” Mills said, expressing excitement about working with colors not previously available.
“We’ve had a fair amount of customers ask for gray or tan painted trim and doors rather than the white that you typically see,” said TJ Southmayd with Nest Realty representing Craig Builders in the Parade. He invites you to view their Foothill Crossings Parade entry that features a “mushroom” trim color.
Another decor update is the return of brass fixtures, Mills said adding that these are a toned down color compared to what may have been in common use previously. Look at drawer and cabinet pulls and light fixtures to see more of these new shades of brass.
Parade goers can view many of these design elements all in one place at the Southern Development Homes Design Center. Kendra Dunn, Sales and Marketing Administrator, described many of these including gray cabinets and frieze carpet, an updated and shorter version of old style shags.
For buyers who like multi-level living, but don’t want to climb stairs, another trend is residential elevators. According to Kate Colvin with Roy Wheeler Realty Co. representing Craig Builders, “In our Out of Bounds Parade Entry we’ve improved multiple level living with the addition of elevators that are included in the price and serve all four levels.”
Still another interesting feature you can view at this year’s Parade is roof top terraces or balconies, explained Kristin Sorokti, Executive Director of the BRHBA. In a list of some of this year’s interesting features she also included outdoor kitchens and fireplaces, wrap around porches and see-through gas fireplaces.
A trend that goes hand-in-hand with one level living is a focus on building better rather than bigger and using more sustainable materials said Rob Johnson with Green Mountain Construction. Johnson is the builder of two spec homes in Bundoran Farms in North Garden, one of the featured communities in this year’s Parade. He believes that, more and more, people buying new homes are making decisions based on the intention to stay for awhile and the desire for long term payback.
Energy Efficiency A Big Focus
Saving energy continues to be of major interest to new home buyers, and the builders are responding. “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,” said Greg Slater with Nest Realty who represents Bramante Homes. He added that a standard way to evaluate a home’s energy efficiency is its HERS (Home Energy Rating System) Index, which he described as a performance measure. A home built to code has a HERS score of 100, while lower scores reflect higher degrees of energy efficiency.
“Higher performing homes are proven more valuable in the marketplace,” Slater said. The Bramante Homes Parade entry has a HERS score of 25, a very efficient rating due in part to use of solar panels. “Solar is catching on at the builder level,” he explained, stating that with 30-year financing, tax credits and low interest rates it pays for itself.
Many of the homes in this year’s event are also EarthCraft certified. To achieve this certification homes are rated according to a variety of measures such as energy efficiency, indoor air quality and efficient use of materials. River House Condominiums, at Stony Point Design/Build’s Riverside Village, will be the first EarthCraft Multifamily project in Charlottesville, Mills said. Ask for details at the Riverside Village Parade model.
All of your questions about green building are welcome at the Parade where builders and agents are prepared to advise on how energy saving innovations can benefit you.
Parade Features Three
Neighborhoods featured in the Parade are an opportunity for visitors to see new developments and learn about what’s coming in different parts of town.
This year’s featured neighborhoods include Stanley Martin Homes’ Chesterfield Landing in Crozet, and Hollymead Walk on 29 North. The third neighborhood is Natural Retreats’ Bundoran Farms in North Garden south of Charlottesville. Each of these new communities has something unique and different to offer.
If living on a half-acre wooded lot in Crozet appeals to you, take the time to visit Chesterfield Landing, a new community with a variety of floor plans starting in the mid-$400,000s. Designs with first floor owner suites or one level living are available in this new community just 20 minutes from Charlottesville.
If you want to walk to shopping and restaurants, Hollymead Walk, a townhome community that is walkable to Hollymead Town Center might be just what you are looking for. This community, which is also just minutes from the airport, has prices starting at $269,900. One of many options is a rooftop terrace with mountain views.
Bundoran Farms is a conservation based community with 99 home sites and a century-old working farm with 260 head of cattle and an orchard with 25,000 apple trees. Conservation easements protect the property from further development. Hiking and bridle trails wind through the property, which also includes two private lakes for kayaking and fishing.
Johnson, whose Green Mountain Construction is building two spec homes in this community, described Bundoran Farms as “the quintessential Virginia countryside.” He added that residents will enjoy home sites that are private and designed to preserve views and minimize light pollution.
Builders and REALTORS® Collaborate for a Successful Parade
While Parade builders love to welcome customers into their models every year, they are also happy to see and network with local REALTORS®.
Michael Guthrie, Principal Broker of Roy Wheeler Realty Co., the Parade’s Presenting Sponsor, always expresses appreciation for the good working relationship between agents and builders in our community. His company believes in the Parade, which he described as important for the builders as well as for the real estate community throughout central Virginia.
The BRHBA also nurtures the builders’ relationship with REALTORS® through its annual sponsorship of the REALTOR® Home Tour. This special event, exclusively for REALTORS®, is a unique opportunity for them to see the Parade homes and familiarize themselves with what is new prior to the public having access during the Parade. 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 the agents to network with each other and learn what their respective clients are looking for in homes and neighborhoods.
Builders, agents and other associate members of the BRHBA also get a chance to network at the annual Parade kickoff event at the King Family Vineyards. “When we get together at the gala, it is a chance to network, enjoy each other’s company and be grateful for all our business,” Guthrie said.
Bring a friend and a list of questions and take advantage of this weekend’s opportunity to attend the Parade and talk to site agents and builders. Details are available in this edition of the CAAR Real Estate Weekly and at the BRHBA website and Parade Facebook page. Or consult your favorite REALTOR®.
Celeste Smucker is a writer, blogger and author who lives near Charlottesville.